Cold Snap Destroys Local Crops
Posted April 9, 2007 7:51 p.m. EDT
Updated April 10, 2007 9:23 a.m. EDT
West End, N.C. — This weekend’s cold snap took a toll on many local crops. Watts Auman’s farm in Moore County along Highway 73 is just one example.
He says his peach crop is a total loss.
Auman carries a sharp pocketknife. He uses it to slice open his tiny, fuzzy, spongy peach buds. In every nub of green, he sees brown—the color of death.
“If it were alive, it would be bright, fresh … real bright fresh,” he said.
Auman's trees blossomed right on cue in a balmy mid-March. Then an April shock came, killing his crop.
Nothing is salvageable, and his faithful customers will have to wait many months before they can sink their teeth into the farm’s summertime fruit.
As devastating as this is, Auman takes the loss with a shrug. The 68-year-old farmer grows 40 acres of peaches. He doesn't depend on that fruit for his livelihood, though. He has diversified and raises beef cattle, poultry, and timber. He also sells pine straw.
Peach farmers in Montgomery and Anson counties also took a hard hit. But Auman says a fellow farmer in Montgomery County might have saved much of his harvest by using giant fans to create wind and prevent frost.
The cold weather damaged other crops in the area.
Local strawberry farms covered their plants with plastic to protect them from the cold. Even so, state agriculture officials say some of the crop has been damaged. They say the freezing weather will delay harvest by several days.
The State Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said farmers across the state also felt the impact of the cold. In eastern North Carolina, blueberries took a hit, and there is significant damage to the apple orchards in western North Carolina.
The state ranks ninth in the nation, harvesting, on average, 35 million pounds of fruit a year.