Georgia blueberry crops take a loss due to spring's colder temperatures

Georgia blueberry crops take a loss

TIFT CO., GA (WALB) - Some blueberry farmers across the state suffered an early spring freeze causing them to lose 60 percent of their crops.

That's according to an extension agent for blueberry production with the University of Georgia.

Blueberry plants cover the Good Berry Farms in Tifton. Thankfully, they didn't have a loss in blueberries due to the cold air this spring, however, they are taking precautions going into the fall and winter months.

"I think most of it is just luck, we didn't get as low a temperature as surrounding areas did," said Good Berry Farms Owner Bob Welker.

Welker said he keeps a close eye on the blueberries on his farm.

"Well, I started in '09, I guess it was with just a few berries, and I didn't stop planting them. Now I've got about 5,500 plants and still planting," Welker explained.

When he found out that freezing temperatures were damaging crops in surrounding counties, he started thinking about what keeps his crops safe.

"It's easy to control when you've got water protection. We call it freeze protection, where you water down your plants until they freeze. You put a coat of ice on them and it protects them. It won't let it fall below 32 degrees," said Welker.

Welker said he is isolated from other farms and has trees to block the wind, which helps keep the crop safe.

"I can probably handle it unless it gets very extreme, down in low 20s, high teens. Then I would be in trouble," Welker said. "We use a max jet. We don't put heavy water on them, we just keep them fogged down with water, so the freeze can't really get to them. We are going to have a good crop."

Welker also said he is looking forward to the production of more blueberries and even the addition of citrus fruit into his farms.

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