By Jamie Gardner
It is a blueberry farmer’s worst fear.
Our area experiences unusually warm temperatures during the winter months, which results in an early bloom, only to see that bloom falter due to a late freeze in March or April. Last Thursday Appling County and the state of Georgia experienced freezing temperatures that devastated the blueberry crop for 2017.
According to County Agent Shane Curry roughly 90 percent of the rabbit eye variety has been lost and approximately 50 percent of the high bush variety is also gone. He noted that a large percentage of the state of Georgia’s entire blueberry crop is gone.
Curry also reported that early dollar estimates are in and Georgia blueberry farmers will experience an approximate $300,000,000.00 loss for the year and Appling farmers will experience around $20,000,000.00 in losses.
“As the bloom starts to open up, it is more susceptible to be damaged by colder temperatures,” explained Curry about the loss. In some cases, locally, berries were already showing on the bushes this year.