Virginia freeze leaves fruit farmers questioning supply come harvest

Recent freezing during March has been affecting fruit crops around the US as we have previously reported. Orchard owners and farm managers in Virginia are still trying to assess damage to some of their fruits.

Recent weather mostly damaged early-blooming fruits such as peaches, nectarines and plums that were blooming fully when the weather suddenly changed.

“We had severe damage, but I know we still have some fruit,” Gross said. “I just came in from the orchard, and I noticed the buds that had not opened before the flowers were opening on up. … You can lose 90 percent of the blooms on a peach tree and still have enough peaches.” Walter Gross, of Gross’ Orchard in Bedford County said.

At Dickie Brothers in Nelson County, sweet plums were lost completely for the second straight year due to weather. Peaches and nectarines also took a hit, though it’s still too early to tell exactly how much of a loss there will be, co-owner John Bruguiere said.

The Saunders Brothers, like Dickie Brothers, also endured losses. For the second consecutive year, cherries took a major hit and the orchard lost a substantial amount of Asian pears, according to Jim Saunders.

Jim and John Saunders and Bruguiere all said it’s still too early to tell how much fruit will be available to sell in the coming months. “There’s about a month of weather in front of us that could cause us some problems,” Bruguiere said.


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