The freezing temperatures last weekend were not a welcome sight for farmers growing peaches and strawberries. Kay McCutcheon, of McLeod Farms in McBee, said it’s too early to tell how much the weather affected the peach crop but the strawberries were saved.
She said the strawberries were covered and wind machines circulated air in the peach field as workers kept a watchful eye all night long.
“There was some damage in the peach crop, but it shouldn’t affect local availability,” McCutcheon said. “The effect of the cold will be evident in the early maturing varieties that have started to bloom.”
She said the freezing temperatures aren’t a problem until your trees have bloomed. The recent warmer weather, McCutcheon said, weather encouraged the peach trees to bloom.
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“Once they bloom, the cold can hurt,” McCutcheon said. “We don’t know yet how much the peach crop was affected. The only way to tell is to have to wait a few days for it to get further along blooming.”
On average, McLeod Farms ships about 10,000, trays of peaches up and down the East Coast. Each tray holds 40 peaches. McCutcheon said the biggest demand for peaches is at the end of June.
“It’s highly unlikely there would be another cold spell, this is pretty late in the season already,” she said. “McLeod goes through extraordinary measures to preserve our crops.”
Further upstate, freezing temperatures did more damage, with one York County grower worrying he may have lost half his crop.
The Herald of Rock Hill reports that temperatures dipped into the 20s Sunday morning.
Arthur Black grows peaches west of York and says the cold damaged peach blossoms and he fears half his crop is gone. Ben Smith said he lost some peaches too, but has not yet thinned his crop so he hopes the loss won't be too bad.
Ron Edwards at Springs Farm in Fort Mill tells the newspaper he was up Saturday night warming the peaches and running water over his strawberry plants to prevent them from freezing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.