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Fruit growers escape disaster

Bob Hall, owner of the Bush-N-Vine in Filbert, works on a sprinkler head in one of his strawberry fields Monday afternoon. Overnight, when the temperature drops, he will turn on the sprinklers to put an ice coating over his strawberries to save them from the below-freezing temperatures.
Bob Hall, owner of the Bush-N-Vine in Filbert, works on a sprinkler head in one of his strawberry fields Monday afternoon. Overnight, when the temperature drops, he will turn on the sprinklers to put an ice coating over his strawberries to save them from the below-freezing temperatures.

Mother Nature showed mercy.

York County farmers this morning reported that an overnight freeze was short-lived and didn’t damage their vulnerable berries and peaches.

“Strawberries are in great shape,” said Filbert farmer Bob Hall. “I feel like peaches should be OK, too. I don’t think it got cold enough, long enough to do much harm.”

Last night, fruit growers anxiously waited to see if a blanket of frost and sub-30 degree temperatures would damage their produce. Last Easter, a hard freeze on Easter Sunday morning wiped out almost all the local peaches, devastating growers.

But the cold weather wasn’t as severe this time. Hall said he measured a low temperature of about 24 degrees at the ground where his strawberry plants extend in dozens of rows. He turned on water sprinklers around 11:30 Monday night to create an insulating layer of ice on the baby berries. It worked.

Hall said temperatures were a few degrees warmer in the air around his peach trees. He’ll check them thoroughly this afternoon, but he predicts success there, too.

Down the road, peach grower Ben Smith had inspected his orchards by 10 a.m. Good news.

“We’re not hurt at all,” he beamed. “I’m actually surprised there’s not any damage, it got down to 26 degrees.”

But it didn’t stay there long. As soon as temperatures bottomed out, they began to rise with the sun, he said.

Never one to make predictions “until the check is in the bank at the end of the season,” Smith had to smile after the close call. If Monday night was the last icy blast, it could be a good crop this summer.

“That would be good,” he said.

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