Fruit Farm Fights Frigid Temps - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fruit Farm Fights Frigid Temps

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January 3, 2008

Mitchell County - - The frigid weather worries some South Georgia farmers, but it's good news for others. Peach trees need what growers call 'chill hours' and freezing temperatures also kill bugs that can eat away at farmers profits.

But the cold weather is keeping folks at a popular South Georgia fruit farm busy. 

Many people know about Vann Farms in Mitchell County because of that tasty strawberry ice cream. This time of year, the berry that goes into that ice cream is their main crop. The fruit farm is trying to keep the frigid weather from getting the best of it. 

When you see white in a South Georgia farm field, you usually think cotton. But at Vann's Fruit Farm, you'll have to take another look.

"It's been several years since it got this cold for this many nights in a row," says Owner Scott Vann.

The effect of the cold...ice. It's covering Vann's Fruit Farm's cash crop.

"That's what we started with our strawberries and that seems to be most popular."

Vann has seen after this fruit farm for some eight years. And the frigid weather is keeping him busy.

"It's the small fruit that were trying to save."

We visited the farm several times Thursday. First during the day. Then in the evening nd again at night. The night brought the coldest weather of all.

"This will be our third night freezing the berries and that's not good on them when you do that."

But he has to....to save it. So when it gets really cold, like tonight, he actually waters the strawberry plants. Soon after, you get ice, which actually protects the fruit from the severe cold.

"We normally cut the sprinklers on about 34 degrees. When it gets 34 degrees, we cut them on and the ice forms an insulation around the plant."

He realizes he wont save them all. But this is a start.

"It's just down here we get spoiled with it being a warm winter and then it turns cold."

Vann doesn't expect to lose a lot of the crop. He says because it's been a warm winter, up until now, he's actually very far along with his strawberries.

Vann Farms planted the berries in October. By taking this precaution now, he thinks he'll be able to pick them in early February a couple of weeks earlier than usual.

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