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Farmers bracing for freeze

Local farmers braced for cold weather at the start of the week as temperatures were expected to dip below freezing late Monday and into Tuesday. This is the third year in a row farmers face the loss of crops due to freezing weather around Easter. Peach farmer Brad Gregg of Hollonville’s Gregg Orchards said the heavy rainfall of last week knocked off many petals of trees in bloom, but the tiny peaches contained within continue to grow. When temperatures remain below freezing for several hours, the little peaches freeze. Gregg Orchards grows 55 acres in peaches and blueberries. Later varieties of peaches such as Red Globe and Jeffersons, which are harvested in mid to late July, would be more likely to survive the cold. Varieties usually harvested in late June to early July could be threatened. Last spring two post-Easter freezes damaged the peach crop and much of the blueberry crop in the area. Donnie Connell of Connell Farms in Hollonville grows strawberries. Last Friday he readied his sprinkler system when he learned freezing temperatures were predicted for this week. When the temperature reaches 33 degrees, he turns on his sprinklers and coats the plants with water, which quickly turns to a thin coating of ice. The coating of ice acts as insulation and will not let the temperature drop any lower than 32 degrees on he plant, he said. Connell and his daughter Denise Lawrence, who runs his strawberry operation, were prepared to stay up all night if necessary. ”Once we turn the sprinkler on we have to stay with it,” she said….. To read the entire article visit your local newsstand or view our new eEdition.

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