Warm Winter Puts Georgia Peach And Nut Crops At Risk

Dec 29, 2015

Georgia's No. 1 agricultural crop is cotton, followed by timber, peanuts and blueberries.

The official state fruit, the peach, is also a big money-maker.

But an unusually warm winter is not ideal for many crops like peaches.

Georgia peach growers say they're concerned about whether they'll have enough this spring.

Duke Lane Jr., a former president of the Georgia Peach Council, said if the peaches are not exposed to at least 31 more days of temperatures below 45 degrees before February 2015, farmers could lose some of their crop.

"It's just been a balmy, humid, spring-like weather out there and it's not suitable for people to grow fruit trees,” Lane said. “And really, the pecan trees, the nut trees and all, everything has to have a certain amount of cold-like weather to bloom out and leaf out in a normal fashion.”

In a worst case scenario, Lane said, farmers may have to chill the trees artificially.

"I don't think it's time to push the panic button by any means but you know we've had mighty balmy winter weather, things could change dealing with mother nature, you never know what hand you're going to get,” Lane said. “But as it stands right now, we're anxiously awaiting that cold weather to come."

After blueberries, peaches are the state's second most lucrative fruit crop, or third if you consider watermelons to be fruit.