WIND BLOW, NC — North Carolina fruit growers are experiencing some stress as a warm winter and early spring harbor the potential for devastated peach, strawberry and apple crops.
Orchards are blooming early, which makes them vulnerable to late freezes, and Sunday night, a thin coat of frost covered one peach orchard in Montgomery County when temperatures dropped to 29 degrees. Farmer Pratt Gallimore says he no longer loses much sleep over such situations.
Peaches used to be Gallimore's main crop, but now he says he just keeps the orchard going for the sake of tradition. Calling peach-growing undependable, Gallimore says his main crop now is tobacco.
Last year was one of the bad years, according to Gallimore. Killer frosts wiped out nearly every orchard in the state. But, if frosts stay away this spring, it could mean one of the few bumper crops Gallimore's seen since his father ran the farm. He says if there's one thing he's learned over the years, it's to keep his expectations low.
Apple-growers in the western part of the state say the buds on their trees haven't developed enough yet for recent cold snaps to have done any damage.