SC peach crop in serious jeopardy

Freezing temps are putting peach and strawberry crops in serious danger.

YORK, S.C. -- South Carolina is the second leading peach producer behind California, producing more than 60,000 tons of peaches, valued at more than $60 million. But, because of the below freezing temperatures expected across the state over the next few nights, this season’s crops are in danger of being wiped out.

Bush-N-Vine Farm, a 150-acre farm in York has been in the Hall family for more than 100 years.

“We used to only grow peaches. They would load them up on trucks, took them into the town of York and also shipped them up to New York. York County used to be a big peach county back in the '40s,” said co-owner Sam Hall, who runs the farm with his father.

Hall says in 1979 his father opened up the roadside farm stand, which sits off Highway 321, and expanded the farm to also grow and sell produce including strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, watermelons, pumpkins and more.

This season, thanks to the unseasonable warm weather, fresh-picked strawberries already line the shelves of the farm stand. Hall says strawberries, blueberries and peaches are blooming more than a month ahead of schedule, which is putting them at greater risk of being affected by the freeze.

To salvage the blueberry crops, Hall and other workers were busy Tuesday assembling pipes through the blueberry fields.

“You turn water on to create ice around that bloom and that ice acts as an insulator to protect that flower,” said Hall.

Hall also covered the strawberry fields with tarps, saying the tarps will trap heat inside. But he says strawberries can recover after a freeze, regenerating new blooms. Peach trees, he says only bloom once.

“If the frost gets them, it gets them and there’s not much we can do to protect them,” says Hall.

Hall says they’ve faced similar freezes before, like one that happened in April of 2007, which wiped out 90-percent of South Carolina’s peach crops. Hall says that year they didn’t sell any peaches but were fortunate to have other crops which kept the farm afloat and kept dinner on the table.

This time around, Hall says they’re hoping for the best, but says if they have to, they will rely on their other crops, once again. He says right now they just have to wait to see what this week’s weather will do.

Copyright 2017 WCNC


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