While most peach growers in the southern two-thirds of Georgia are dealing with up to 95% crop loss after a mid-March freeze, northeast Georgia farmer Drew Echols was able to save some of his 150-acre peach crop this season. Echols' operation, Jaemor Farms in the Blue Ridge Foothills of Lula, is expecting to net 30% of its expected production.
"It's just the way the land and climate are in the state of Georgia," Echols says. "There's not a whole lot of peaches grown in Virginia or Pennsylvania, but from what I'm being told, they've got a full crop. My farm actually lines up more with those northern climates than with even the guys in middle Georgia. Those farms are 500-, 600-, 700-foot elevation, and my farm is at 1,300-, 1,400-foot in elevation."
At twice the altitude of farms to the south, Jaemor Farms better averted unusually warm February temperatures; on five days between March 14 and March 21, with most of the state's peach trees having blossomed prematurely, freezing temperatures hit the entire region.