Cool weather could impact South GA crops

Cool weather could impact South GA crops
Apples at mark's Melon Patch (Source: WALB)
Mark Daniel speaking about the cool weather effecting the harvest (Source: WALB)
Mark Daniel speaking about the cool weather effecting the harvest (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - At Mark's Melon Patch, not much looks to be struggling except maybe the customers deciding which fruit to buy.

But just one cold day could have killed off all the fruit.

For a small family owned business like Mark's, that would be devastating.

But the cooler temperatures are not the main thing that kills plants, it's the frost.

"Frost is the killer if you're talking about 33, 34, 35 degrees," said Mark's Melon Patch Owner Mark Daniel. "You can get a very hard frost at those temps. You get down into the twenties and even upper twenties, you're talking about destruction of cell tissue inside of the plant."

Last year South Georgia experienced similar weather to this year and farmers almost lost all of the blueberry crops throughout South Georgia and were expected to lose 80 percent of the peach crop.

"A lot of the times peaches and blueberry's you can't just replant them and have them at a later day ready," said Daniel. "You are either going to make it that year or not, based on what they experience temperature wise."

Although we are in much better shape this year with only a projected 20 percent loss with the peach harvest, Mark is taking no chances this year with his preparation.

"The main thing that we do is we will run sometimes drip irrigation under the plastic bed and supposedly it will warm up the bed," explained Daniel. "We'll do that, we'll do road covers, we'll just do whatever the heck we have to, to try to save whatever we have."

Even though the weather doesn't seem to be hitting those low numbers enough to affect the crops, with every dangerously low-temperature day we have further into the spring, the more harmful it could be to the crops.

"That's a big difference," said Daniel. "That's a huge difference when it comes to blueberries and peaches. Even whatever else you have planted in the spring, like tomatoes and corn and all that."

Mark believes we are out of the worst of it for the year and shouldn't see too much of a change in the harvest, but he said they will do everything they can to prevent any damage if it does.

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