Cold temperatures impacting blueberry, citrus crops across South Ga. region

WALB spoke with Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black about how the cold may have impacted several agricultural growers across the region.
Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 10:57 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Recently, there were hard freeze cold temperatures in South Georgia. WALB’s Jim Wallace spoke with Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black about how it may have impacted several agricultural growers across the region.

“Commissioner, what do we know so far?” asked Wallace.

“Jim, the focus has been on blueberry and citrus. We got some really good reports yesterday [Sunday] morning from the ground. We’ve got some fields I know that was as low as 16 degrees, which is bizarre. It was colder in South Georgia than in many parts of North Georgia. There was also a mixture of growers, particularly blueberries. Do I run the sprinklers or do I not? So we know there were producers that chose both methods. Talked with Mike Bruorton down in Fargo with Superior Berries. And they felt pretty confident. They ran sprinklers. I think Mike’s got about 600 acres of blueberries. He was cautiously optimistic on his early, May varieties. Maybe 10 or 20 percent, he was thinking his assessment yesterday morning was a little more optimistic than I expected. And I feel like the Rabbit Eye later in June is going to be ok. I know they are doing an assessment. Pretty much the same up the road with Joe Cornelius in Waycross. They are thinking could have in a 40 percent range. I’ve heard some even 50 percent on those early season varieties but then not too much on the Rabbit Eyes later on. I know they are doing an assessment,” Commissioner Black responded.

“The Chairman of our Blueberry Commission is Jerome Crosby. Jerome is in Berrien County and Atkinson County. He has got some damage, but these percentages being optimistic on the 30 percent side, up to I have heard some 50 percent, they are worried about. That may be what we are looking at early on. The silver lining in this is maybe we can avoid any more episodes like this moving forward, that allows the fruit to size up. We could have a little more weight and actually might be a way to redeem the season that way. A little bigger fruit, you don’t make it up on volume, maybe make it up on size,” he added.

“Commissioner Gary Black, thank you for your update on agriculture, the number one industry in the state,” Wallace said.

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