‘It nips the fruit in the bud, literally’: Freezing temperatures may impact produce farmers
ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. (WMBF) - The dramatic changes in temperatures throughout the Carolinas has farmers rushing to make sure their crops are protected.
For the Herring family, this time of year means crossing their fingers.
“There’s really nothing we can do, we just pray a lot that the weather will cooperate,” said Geraldine Herring, whose family runs Geraldine’s Peaches and Produce in Robeson County.
But, most of the time, they say, it does not.
“We really have not had a full orchard without damage probably in at least five years,” said Geraldine Herring.
Right now, the Herrings have rows and rows of peach trees waiting to bloom, but even a few hours of freezing temperatures could be detrimental.
“It nips the fruit in the bud, literally,” said Geraldine’s daughter, Brooke Herring.
Agronomist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Georgia Love, said any crop that flowers are at risk.
“During that flowering process, that flower is producing pollen and pollinating to produce that fruit, and so you basically kill the pollination part of that plant,” said Love.
The Herrings’ trees only have flowers right now, but in two weeks, could have peaches, if the weather permits.
“Right now, if it’s a really hard freeze, I think we will probably be okay,” said Geraldine Herring. “If this happens two weeks from now, we will have fruit already on the trees and that will not be good at all.”
WMBF’s Chief Meteorologist Jamie Arnold said freezes around this time of year are typical, and the area could see another threat. But, this freeze could have more of an impact.
“What makes this one more important is that we had all that record warmth in January and February, so all of the flowers and the buds and the crops are running about two to three weeks ahead of schedule,” said Arnold.
Love said farmers’ crops are typically in the clear after April 15th.
“It’s important to be aware that those things happen and kind of be supportive of our local growers as they face things like this,” she said.
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