An early spring cold snap has given peach farmers in the Upstate reasons to worry.
Andy Rollins, county extension agent for Clemson University, said an early morning freeze in March damaged peaches that had grown earlier in the month.
“A majority of farms lost much of their production that morning” he said.
In some areas of the Upstate, the temperature dipped below freezing. Anything left in that area, Rollins said, “is crop that bloomed after the morning of the freeze.”
Ron Edwards, the manager of Springs Farm in Fort Mill, is among the farmers who lost crop that morning.
He said he expects to lose about 80 percent of the peach yield. But that’s just a guess, Edwards said. He said he will not know the full extent of the damage until the end of the peach season in August, when this year’s yield can be compared to past years.
Other peach farmers expressed similar views. Peach production is down in the area, but any numbers stated now would be peach farmers’ best guess.
Despite uncertain numbers, Nathan Smith, the extension professor of agribusiness production at Clemson University, said “losing that large of a crop is certainly going to have an impact.”
Prices will be higher for both consumers, Smith said. But the full economic impact of the peach freeze won’t be known until the end of the peach season.
Pete Wilson, owning partner at Cotton Hills Farm in Chester, also lost crop the morning of the freeze. Wilson said some varieties of peaches were much more affected than others. He said he’s planning to pick about half the crop during July, but that’s much less than usual.
“We are gonna have less than half a crop, that’s for sure” Wilson said.
Wilson said peaches are among the most difficult crops to protect from the cold. He said peach trees don’t conform well, there’s no practical way to cover them.