Lowndes Co. blueberry farm fights cold weather

By: Noelani Mathews
March 15, 2017

LAKE PARK, Ga. (WCTV) -- South Georgia farmers say the recent cold weather could cost millions in blueberry production.

The Farm at Quail Branch in Lake Park just planted 60 acres of blueberries a year ago.

They say the crop is expected to produce three times it's normal amount, and due to the warmer season, the berries are weeks ahead of schedule.

Now, the only problem is the cold weather jeopardizing a successful harvest, just weeks away.

"We're praying and taking every precaution we can that it's going to be bad," says Lee Boatenreiter, with Farm at Quail Branch. "We're expecting the worst and praying for the best."

He says they have already suffered wind damage from Hurricane Hermine a few months ago.

"You always know there's a chance this will happen, but you cross your fingers and hope it doesn't."

Now, the upcoming cold nights could burn the fruit and lead to infection.

They say it could put their harvest of around 200,000 pounds in jeopardy.

"You're either always in alliance or a fight with mother nature."

This week, Boatenreiter says it's the fight to save his year-old crop.

"When you put in the kind of money it takes to put this together, and you watch it get destroyed in 24 hours, it's pretty tough."

Many blueberry farmers plan to run ground irrigation and create a heat barrier throughout the night.

The family says they will be spending the next several nights out at the farm in hopes to keep the crop from burning.