Farmer discusses late spring freeze’s impact on peach crops

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HARTSELLE, Ala. — We have had a pretty warm spring here in north Alabama except for a few freezes, the last one being March 19th.  While we may soon be able to leave the memories of colder weather behind, others, like farmers, say it’s not so easy to forget.

The first tree was planted at Reeve’s Peach Farm in 1959. Since then, the farm has expanded to growing and selling a lot more than just peaches. But one thing that will never change is the unpredictable weather patterns that can make or break a successful crop.

“It only takes one time for a peach to be frozen, and that will kill it, and that will be it for the year,” said farm manager David Reeves.

Peaches ripen at staggered times starting in May and ending in September. This year, the crop at Reeve’s farm started blooming in March, and there have been several frosts since then.

When a peach freezes, it stays small until it falls from the tree. A frost will kill the inside seed, but leave the outside intact.

At Reeve’s Farm, the orchards are spread out throughout the property, and there’s only so much preventative work you can do.

“We just do a little bit of praying and hope for the best,” Reeves said.

Different varieties of peaches ripen at different times of the year. The more varieties you have, the more likely you are to have a successful crop and a longer peach season.

Reeves said this year’s late frosts probably killed off about 30 percent of the crop, but that still leaves plenty to enjoy.

“We lost a lot more of our early varieties, but our ones in July and August seem like they’re good to go,” Reeves said.

Right now the farm is selling strawberries, and peaches will be ready for starting in mid-May. The farm also hopes to be opening a new roadside stand sometime this fall.

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