Over 80% loss in blueberry & peach crops after Deep South freeze

Last week's deep freeze in the Southeast appears to have nearly wiped out Georgia's blueberries and South Carolina's peaches. In South Carolina, 85 percent of the state's peach crop is gone while the small pink blooms remain on the trees, according to the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.

About 85 percent of the Edgefield County peach crop was wiped out by three straight nights of below-freezing temperatures last week, according to Sonny Yonce of Big Smile Peaches in Johnston.

The 15 percent that remains might be enough to satisfy local demand, but the packing sheds won’t operate this summer because there won’t be enough to ship elsewhere, Yonce said.

“It’s a devastating blow,” he said. “How any fruit made it, I really can’t explain.”

“Peach-lovers can still expect to see local peaches in July and August in limited quantities,” the release said.

Up to 80 percent of south Georgia's blueberry crop is also gone, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said after touring the state late last week.

Between the two states, crop losses from the freeze could approach $1 billion, officials said.

"We saw blueberry fields that had the potential to be the biggest and best crop of Georgia's production history. But you would now not be able to find enough blueberries that survived the cold to make one pie," Black said.

Both states also reported some damage to strawberries. North Carolina farmers said apples blooming earlier than usual were hurt by the freeze.

source: abcnews.go.com, chronicile.augusta.com

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