Winter weather threatens Georgia blueberry, peach crops



Georgia fruit farmers face the potential loss of millions of dollars in crops as a late-winter freeze threatens the state, top agriculture officials said Tuesday.

State Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said blueberry and peach farmers in particular are at risk.

“They’re telling me this morning that 60 percent of the rabbit-eye blueberries and then even some portions of the highbush could get pounded tonight,” Black said.

Georgia leads the country in blueberry production. Most of central and north Georgia will be under a freeze warning from 11 p.m. Tuesday until 11 a.m. Wednesday.

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House Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom McCall, R-Elberton, said peach farmers, too, are concerned.

“Farmers north of Macon had been preparing a bumper crop and were almost naming their own prices,” McCall said.

Now, those farmers could see fruit freeze overnight, while farmers south of Macon have struggled with not enough cool weather, he said.

Black said it remains to be seen if the state's Vidalia onion crop is impacted by the freeze.

“Onions are a little more resilient,” he said. “I’m not ready to comment on that. We’ll wait and see.”

There’s not much that can be done to help farmers, Black said, except pray for warmer weather.

“We’re going to be joining several groups, there are prayer meetings all over South Georgia,” he said. “We’ll be asking the Lord to protect us.”

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