Unseasonably Warm Winter Damages Fruit Crops

By: Greg Gullberg Email
By: Greg Gullberg Email

- Brooks County, Ga. - March 16, 2012 -

It's unusually hot for March, and paired with hardly any cold days this winter, it's taking a toll on South Georgia farmers.

Peaches and blueberries are big business in South Georgia, but unseasonably warm temperatures have farmers sweating more than just the heat, but damaged crops as well.

Farmers count on the cold to regulate their growing periods. The heat is causing fruit crops to start their blooming cycles too early.

Brooks County Extension Coordinator for the University of Georgia Johnny Whiddon tells Eyewitness News reporter Greg Gullberg that means much of the crop will mature too fast or too slow to rip properly leaving baskets of disfigured fruit.

"Right now this extremely warm beach weather we're having is creating some issues in the fact that everything is moving a lot faster than we normally expect at this time of the year," said Whiddon.

Whiddon warns that improper growth increases their susceptibility to insects and disease. That means farmers will have to start spraying their crops early.

And there's one last big fear. A strong blast of cold before Easter could catch crops off guard with their natural defenses lowered.

Some farmers are finding ways of taking advantage of the heat. For instance, corn farmers see it as an opportunity to get ahead of the game and plant early. But by doing that they run the risk of an early Spring cold blast wiping out their crops. That is an expensive gamble.


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  • by Georgia Boy Location: Cairo on Mar 18, 2012 at 04:27 AM
    The biggest concern I have is that early warmth causes blooming to start, and then a frost or freeze will kill the tender blooms, without which there is no fruit.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 17, 2012 at 11:32 PM
    I agree with Gerry and Barack. We should ALL park our cars and walk.
  • by Gerry Location: Tallahassee on Mar 17, 2012 at 07:48 AM
    The world has 7 billion people and 1 billion vehicles. The figure 1 billion reflects the approximate number of cars, light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses registered worldwide.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 17, 2012 at 12:46 PM in reply to Gerry
      And this is relevant why? Useless information is still useless no matter how many times you repeat it. Do you really think that every operating vehicle is registered? Do you really think that animals don't affect the environment. Everybody spouts out the human population, but I never see animal populations. It's all just useless information.
      • reply
        by Gerry on Mar 17, 2012 at 02:12 PM in reply to
        If anthropogenic global warming were actually occurring, how would it look?
        • reply
          by nslay on Mar 18, 2012 at 12:37 AM in reply to Gerry
          Probably something like the biggest extinction event in history. There was a lot of CO2 spewed into the atmosphere by Siberian volcanoes at the time. Not that 90% of all species go extinct over night... (just so you know, I am NOT an expert).
      • reply
        by Gerry on Mar 17, 2012 at 02:32 PM in reply to
        The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is currently about 390 parts per million. What concentration would be cause for concern?
        • reply
          by Gerry on Mar 19, 2012 at 07:57 AM in reply to Gerry
          We are in a little ice age. Those global warming people are fruitcakes.
  • by the best winter i can rember Location: s. ga on Mar 17, 2012 at 07:26 AM
    hope it is even warmer next winter. and the summer is starting out nise.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 17, 2012 at 12:47 PM in reply to the best winter i can rember
      Summer hasn't started yet. Actually Spring hasn't even started.
      • reply
        by the best winter i can rember on Mar 18, 2012 at 08:38 PM in reply to
        i think 85 and 90 degree classifies as spring and summer. i dont go by time-date-i set my own rules dont let others set them for me.
  • by Warning on Mar 17, 2012 at 05:35 AM
    This is just another manufactured global warming story, the "damage" is the trees are blooming earlier? Trees, rocks, dirt, and water has been around a lot longer than we have, I'm pretty sure they know what they're doing.
    • reply
      by M on Mar 17, 2012 at 12:55 PM in reply to Warning
      But, when farmers/science have selectively bred particular cultivars for this area and the required inputs vary they have adverse effects.
    • reply
      by nslay on Mar 18, 2012 at 12:23 AM in reply to Warning
      What about all the manufactured stories and research for the contrary? Don't be fooled by the loonies and nutters. There really is no debate within the scientific community about global warming. The only debate happens among non-expert politicians, journalists, bloggers, corporations, and news commentators. If you don't want to believe the scientists, then there really is nothing more to discuss. You can't be persuaded by experts. Not that it would matter if everyone believed the scientists anyway...
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 18, 2012 at 01:40 AM in reply to Warning
      All plants require a certain number of chill hours. Too much or too little adversely effects the health of the plant. Too little is what we are seeing here. Too little chill hours over a period of time will eventually kill the plant.
  • by Anon Location: >> on Mar 16, 2012 at 10:46 PM
    Sour grapes? May the bird of paradise fly up your nose.
  • by Vegan on Mar 16, 2012 at 05:47 PM
    Can't stand fruit. Hope it all rots.
    • reply
      by Gerry on Mar 19, 2012 at 08:45 AM in reply to Vegan
      I'm a fruit.
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