South Georgia peach growers expect strong season

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
April 16, 2018

TIFTON, Ga. (WCTV) -- In South Georgia, the 2017 season proved dismal for peach growers, but 2018 is expected to be a different story.

One of the worst seasons on record could be followed by one of the best.

The official start of peach season is still a few weeks away. Peaches at Berry Good Farms in Tifton are expected to be ready to be picked by the middle of May. Looking ahead, the farm is expecting this to be one of the best seasons in years.

Bob Welker, owner of the Tifton you-pick-'em farm, said last year they had zero peaches to sell off their more than 100 peach trees. This year, dozens are already hanging off every branch.

Welker explained the fruit likes warm, clear days. They are growing right on track, which he said is a sweet sight after a tough 2017 growing season.

"We haven't had good enough winters to really have a good crop. This year, we have. So we're going from a terrible year to one of our best years, as far as producing and yield," Welker said.

The Tifton farm owner said once they get past March, the fruit are in pretty good shape and not much damage can be done.

Berry Good Farms offers several other you-pick fruits, including strawberries, blueberries and blackberries.

The farm said blueberries are a couple weeks behind schedule. Last year at this time, the berries were already in season. But even with the delay, Welker anticipates a strong season for all three types of berries.

By: Associated Press
April 16, 2018

MACON, Ga. (AP) - Middle Georgia peach growers are expecting a bumper crop this summer, though the start of peach season will be slow.

The Telegraph reports peach growers got plenty of beneficial "chill hours" this winter for the first time in three years. That means growers have emerged from the spring freeze threat with their crop largely intact.

Jeff Cook, the county agent for Peach and Taylor Counties, says a couple of freezes in early March killed a large portion of the early varieties that were already blooming. However, he said the rest of the crop that wasn't blooming during the freezes is in good shape.

Cook estimated about a 20 percent overall crop loss from the freezes - far better than the 80 percent loss in last year's crop.

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