Georgia peach crop takes major hit with cold snap

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 11:24 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - There’s nothing like that bite into a juicy Georgia peach. We’re a few months away from peak peach season, which means peach blooms are in their most vulnerable state.

After a cold snap, Georgia farmers are finding out how much of their crops are going to survive.

But if Georgia peaches fall short, there may be plenty of them from South Carolina.

Jake Carter is a fifth-generation farmer at Southern Belle Farm in McDonough. He grows 10 varieties of peaches on 20 acres. He said when the forecast drops below 28 degrees they go into rescue mode. He used helicopters to keep frost from forming on the ground. The method saved some of the crops.

“We feel like we do have a peach drop, to what extent we don’t yet know,” said Carter.

Pam Knox with the University of Georgia Extension says some peach producers are worried about the changing climate. On average, the state’s temperature is 2 degrees warmer than in 1960. Knox said there have been frosts in key months like March and April.

“Other parts of the state probably will not see peaches this year, only just a few. It’s a constant struggle because as the climate changes, there’s always new challenges,” said Knox.

Peaches are not the only crops impacted. Blueberries already began blooming before this last freeze. The UGA Extension office is researching ways genetically modify peach seeds that can withstand Georgia’s changing climate.

Across the Savannah River in South Carolina, the peach blossoms came about a week early this year.

“We had warm temps late February coming into March, and so the trees were well rested over the winter,” said Jason Rodgers, chief operating officer at Titan Farms in Edgefield County.

Depending on how many survive, an early crop development could lead to an edge against competitors by being able to get your product to the market quicker.

Rodgers says we could be in store for plenty of peaches.

“The plants are resilient,” he said.