Peaches, Berries Survive Cold
Fruit growers are breathing a collective "Whew!"
Their crops survived a spring cold snap early Wednesday morning. Strawberries and peaches are expected to be abundant.
Temperatures did not drop below freezing in some areas and warmed up rapidly as the morning progressed.
"Peaches came through fine," West End grower Watts Auman said. "The forecast is good for the next several days, and if we can get by Easter all right, I think we'll have a fine crop."
The temperature stayed above freezing at his West End orchard. Auman said the lowest temperature was recorded at 34 degrees.
The peach crop is at a very vulnerable stage this week. The blossoms have dropped off. The tiny fruit are just beginning to form, with the shucks beginning to shed, leaving the fruit especially sensitive to a freeze.
Temperatures did drop below freezing at the Pressley Family Farm on Union Church Road between Carthage and Cameron. Richard Pressley said the temperature dropped to 28 degrees in his strawberry fields, but he used both covers and sprinkling to protect the developing berries.
"I think we will have a good crop," Pressley said, adding that the weather warmed up nicely after the sun rose.
Conditions were similar a short distance away at Frank Bryant's Berry Patch on Bryant Road off U.S. 15-501.
Bryant says he turned his sprinklers on when the temperature dropped to 33 degrees at 2:45 a.m. and continued to drop rapidly. He thinks the temperature reached 28 degrees.
"I made a few icicles," Bryant said of his strawberries, which made it through the freeze in top shape.
Several miles away at the Lewis Ring farm on Airport Road, the temperature hovered at 33 degrees and never dropped below freezing, according to Wanda Ring. The farm is near Whispering Pines.
"A breeze was blowing, and that helped," Wanda Ring said.
Auman said the temperature difference is explained by a series of conditions involving elevation and other geologic factors. Farms in the West End to Eagle Springs areas have a higher elevation and thus enjoy a weather advantage many years.
Moore County has seven strawberry growers this year, and all hope to have berries for sale at the farm by late next week.
They include Frank Bryant's The Berry Patch at Bryant Road and U.S. 15-501; Carter Farms on Eagle Springs Road; Pressley Farms Berry Patch, 995 Union Church Road, Cameron; Ring's Strawberry Farm, 937 Airport Road, Lakeview; Highlander's Farm (John Blue), N.C. 22, four miles north of the Moore County Airport; and two new growers -- Pine Lake Strawberries (Reid Greene and Art Atkins) at Pine Lake Lane off U.S. 1 at Dunrovin Country Store between Lakeview and Southern Pines; and C.V. Pilson Strawberries and Flowers, Lobelia Road and McLaughlin Road near Woodlake in the Vass area.
Most farms also sell other fruits and vegetables as they ripen, along with specialty items, such as flowers.
The strawberry season will last through May, possibly into June. The first peaches begin ripening in mid-June and will reach their peak in July. Peach season lasts until September.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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