By Clint Thompson
One North Georgia peach producer experienced better-than-expected yields this yield following a late-season freeze event that could have crippled his crop. And Drew Echols couldn’t be more thankful.
Echols, owner of Jaemor Farms in Alto, Georgia, and president of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, discusses the impact that a freeze in mid-April had on his peach crop.
“We’re better than we thought we were. We thought we were down to 50% crop. We’ve got about another week to pick, and I think when we get done, it’s going to be more like 65%,” Echols said. “There were a lot of good fruit, sold them all which is the main thing. They brought good prices. I think those guys in middle Georgia had about 70% to 75% crop. They fared just a little bit better than I did.
“All in all, we got rid of all the peaches, so I can’t complain.”
That appears to be the sentiment shared by growers across Georgia. Late-season freeze events last spring affected the crop statewide. While farmers experienced reduced yields, the ramifications could have been a lot worse.
“After March 13, I would say it was better than anybody expected. I’m sure most growers would agree when they were looking at temperatures on March 12 and 13, I’m sure most of them would have thought they’d have a devastating loss,” said Jeff Cook, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for Peach and Taylor counties, in a prior Specialty Crop Industry story.
The freezing temperatures impacted the early-season varieties the most.
“These middle and late-season peaches really turned it on. It was short on the front end of it, but everything really panned out good on the middle and tail end of it. I can’t complain, just blessed.”