Most of 2017 Georgia peach crop lost because of weather
THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - Georgia's Peach Farms are taking a big hit this year, with much less fruit, and a shorter season. Agriculture officials say that's due to warm winter weather, and freezing spring temperatures.
Customers are already walking through the doors at Lewis Produce in Thomasville, hoping to grab some sweet Georgia peaches.
The owner of Lewis Produce, Cindy Lewis, says even with only half of the harvest, the peaches themselves have not lost their sweet taste.
"Eight dollars, kinda expensive this year. We didn't have a whole lot of them. They are much more expensive to buy. It's like doubled in price from last year," said Lewis.
Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said last week that nearly 80 percent of the state's peach crop has been wiped out, because of weather conditions.
He says farmers probably won't ship out of state.
South Georgia saw warmer temperatures this winter and spring temperatures dropped into the 20's.
"It's just been devastating for the farmers, I just hate it. But we can't help it, can't do anything about it," Black said.
"We actually have peaches, they are all very nice peaches, and very tasty peaches, thank goodness," Lewis said.
It's not just peaches that farmers are worrying about. Blueberries got blasted too! According to Black, combined the two crops could total up to $300 million in losses.
Although the impact is being felt by farmers and produce market owners, Georgia grown is still their main focus, providing local crops for the south Georgia community.
"Yes, people come in all the time looking for peaches, that's the first thing they look for," said Lewis. "They are like "Oh, Georgia Peaches! Yay!"
The news is just as bad for neighboring south Carolina, which is second only to California in annual peach production.
The Ag Marketing Resource Center says that: California led the nation in peach production in 2014, with 620,000 tons, valued at $356.1 million.
- South Carolina followed, producing 60,800 tons valued at $63.3 million.
- Georgia produced 33,000 tons valued at $36.1 million
- New Jersey produced 21,050 tons valued at $27.9 million (NASS, 2015).
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