Freeze causes serious damage to apples and peaches - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Freeze causes serious damage to apples and peaches

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LINCOLN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

Josh Crotts had high hopes for the apples and peaches this year at the Knob Creek Orchards that his family owns.

"Things were looking good," he said, until freezing temperatures came this week. "We've lost 100% of the apple crop and 100% of the peach crop."

Temperatures dipped into the 20's Wednesday morning and were just a few degrees better on Thursday.

He cut open a few buds to be sure and saw nothing but brown inside. "The apple here is dead," he said as he looked into one.

The apple trees were in full bloom when the freeze hit, their most vulnerable time of the spring. Peach trees were past that and small peaches were already forming. They froze and won't develop any more.

Crotts says it is possible some apples and peaches will make it, but not enough to hire pickers and likely would be deformed by the freeze and frost. So in effect, he says, the entire crop is gone.

Fortunately, the farm was able to protect its strawberry fields and picking there could start in just a couple of weeks. The blackberries appeared to fare all right as well. The bloom stage for them will hit in a few weeks.

Final damage assessments will be made in the apple and peach orchards in the next few weeks, but Crotts does not think it will change from his preliminary damage report. "Just part of farming he said." All we can do is prepare for next year and hope it turns out better."

Agriculture officials say they also will be looking at orchards across the area over the next couple of weeks.

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