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The Big Freeze Could Hit You Hard In the Wallet

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RALEIGH — Dropping overnight temperatures are leaving a sinking feeling in the stomachs of a lot of North Carolina farmers. The lower the thermostat goes, the higher the price the rest of us will pay at the produce stand.

It's going to be a rough couple of nights for North Carolina's fruit crop. So, why should you care? The freeze could result in considerably higher prices in the produce department, according to agricultural economist Dr. Ed Estes.

Think about paying twice the current price for peaches at the grocery store. It only takes a small drop in supply to impact fruit prices. This drop could be significant, but some fruits and vegetables probably won't be impacted, according to Estes.

The potential impact at the dinner table is bad enough, but the potential impact on fruit farmers is worse. Their livelihoods are on the line.

Freezing water on delicate fruit vines actually warms them slightly. But, too much water could do more harm than the deep freeze. Agricultural meteorologist Dr. Katy Perry says that it's an agonizing decision.

Horticulturalists say that there's a good chance that closed buds will survive the chilly weather. However, blossoms, already coaxed into bloom by the warm winter, don't have a very good chance in the cold night.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
Brian Shrader, Web Editor

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