Fruit Farmers On Edge Hoping To Get Through Season Without Frost
Nelson County, VA- Local fruit farmers are on edge after the early spring warm temperatures. They're hoping we won't see a frost, which is still possible this time of year.
Warmer temperatures caused peaches to bloom early and if they freeze, the crop will die.
At Saunders Orchard they have a thermometer linked to an alarm clock, and if the temperature drops below 28 degrees, it's all hands on deck.
The latest frost Paul Saunders remembers is May 10th in the late 1940s.
"You don't have to go to Las Vegas to be a gambler, just be in the peach business and that's the only gamble we take," said Saunders.
He says every blossom on a tree represents a peach, and each tree offers boxes of peaches, but a frost could steal it all.
Saunders says they feel safer after mid-April, pray a lot, and check on the crop often.
The apple blooms haven't opened yet, so they're safe, but the peaches will continue to bloom.
"Once the temperature gets warm, and you get these 70 degree days and 50 degree nights, the peaches start moving," said Jim Saunders.
When the temperature dips, wind machines help move the air around the orchard in hopes of keeping the blossoms from freezing.
"Once you get a bloom and it's killed, it's done for that season so next season you hope for another crop and warm temperatures so it doesn't kill those blooms," said Saunders.