Freezing temperatures and continuing winds are expected to damage premature blueberry crops across the county, with extension damage possible, according to N.C. Cooperative Extension.
Mark Seitz, the statewide cooperative’s extension agent in Burgaw, issued the warning on Friday afternoon.
“Tonight’s temperatures combined with continuing winds and tomorrow night’s low temperatures with no wind will certainly cause freeze injury and blueberry crop loss across North Carolina and likely down to Georgia and north Florida. The amount of damage to these early maturing varieties could be high,” said Seitz.
He said warmer-than-normal temperatures in January and February in Pender County and the surrounding region “have tricked the many early maturing blueberry varieties into producing blossoms.”
“In some fields, these bushes are at 100 percent bloom, which is four to five weeks ahead of when this should happen,” Seitz said.
But he also said blueberry varieties that mature later in the spring for a late May or June harvest are not yet in full bloom, so the “freeze injury and subsequent crop loss may not be as severe.”
“The bottom line is there will be blueberries available for farmers to harvest and for people to buy but the total crop loss will not be known until harvest is complete,” according to the release.
The cooperative is a part of the NC Cooperative Extension, a partnership with North Carolina State University and N.C. A&T State University. In addition to his duties as the County Extension Director, Seitz works with field crop and commercial fruit and vegetable producers in Pender County to provide pesticide education, according to the cooperative’s website.
Source – https://portcitydaily.com