Peach farmers bracing for crop damage in anticipation of subfreezing temperatures

Projected temperatures in the 20s this week may be a minor inconvenience for some, but for others in our area it's a hit to the bottom line.
Projected temperatures in the 20s this week may be a minor inconvenience for some, but for others in our area it's a hit to the bottom line.

RIDGE SPRING, S.C. (WJBF)- Projected temperatures in the 20s this week may be a minor inconvenience for some, but for others in our area it’s a hit to the bottom line.

Some of those people are your local peach farmers, whose lifestyle depends on good crops . When something like this happens, it can affect them all year long.  Some farmers are using more than just prayer to get them through the low temperatures.

Last year South Carolina produced about 68,000 tons of peaches.

Peach blossoms are normally just starting to bloom around the middle of March. This year they came early.

But with temperatures expected to hit 21 degrees Wednesday, that’s a problem.

“If the weatherman hits it, meteorologist, we’re out of business this year” said Jimmy Forrest, owner of Dixie Belle Peaches. “Let’s just say it like it is: It’s going kill all of them.”

Forrest is a third generation peach farmer. He says cold weather will wipe out the crop about every 20 years.

“It’s just an act of God,” he said. “It’s just nothing we can do.”We won’t have any peaches.”

But growers at another nearby farm are going out on a limb to save their peaches. Workers at TitanFarms are spraying their blossoms with sugars.

Jason Rogers, who is vice president of operations at Titan, says it will lower their freezing point to 21 to 23 degrees. But this will be the first time they’ve tried it.

“That’s actually what airlines use to defrost the wings of planes. And so it’s a fertilizer if you will, but it’s sugar,” he said. “It’s not bad for you, and we’re spreading it on the trees.”

But he says they probably won’t be able to assess the damage until Monday.

But Titan Farms also grow vegetables. For Dixie Belle, peaches are it, and Forrest says he’s already put a lot of time and money into his 2,900 acres this year.

“It’s going to be a lot of people: buyers, consumers, and employees are going to be disappointed,” he said.

Forrest says he has about 90 workers under him who will be out of a job if his crop is destroyed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s