The late winter and early spring freezes in Arkansas have created a mess around the state's orchards and vineyards. Prices could increase due to the lower supply expected, especially for peaches.
"Peaches have been hurt the worse as far as how much fruit will be out there," said Amanda McWhirt, extension horticultural crop specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. "We're not sure exactly how it will impact pricing, but we expect them to be in higher demand simply because less fruit will be out there. I'm not sure how much growers will adjust pricing ... It is still a fluid situation, and external costs are going up."
McWhirt said it could also depend on what part of the state consumers buy the fruit. Northern counties saw the biggest damage to fruit crops, so prices may be lower in the southern areas of the state. But it also depends on the demand for the fruit, she added.
There is crop insurance for specialty crops like peaches and muscadines, but those growers would have to sign up for it early in the season, McWhirt said.
During the freeze events, strawberries in Arkansas largely benefited from natural or man-made cover. “Deep snow cover saved the strawberry crop in most areas of the state during the February freeze,” McWhirt said. “Afterward, we saw only minimal damage where plants were not covered or the snow blew off the plants."
Damage to Arkansas blueberries following the February freeze was varied depending on the location and cultivar. Rabbiteye and some Southern highbush types had considerable damage in central and northern locations.
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