Cold temperatures last week may have frozen out South Carolina’s peach and blueberry harvest.
Early reports from the state Department of Agriculture (SCDA) suggest this year’s peach crop was ruined by three consecutive days of subfreezing weather after peach buds began to bloom in an unusually warm February.
Members of the South Carolina Peach Council met Monday to determine the severity of the damage, but warn even an optimistic prediction would see only a 10-15 percent yield of the usual peach crop. Peach-lovers can still expect to see South Carolina-grown peaches in July and August, but only in limited quantities.
“Peaches are a signature South Carolina crop, and this weather anomaly has devastated peach farmers,” state Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers said in a statement. “However, as South Carolina farmers have shown time and again, they are resilient and with the help of allied-industry partners, they will survive this devastating blow.”
Meanwhile, blueberry farmers across the Midlands and Upstate are also reporting similar losses to peach farmers while strawberry farmers statewide say they’ve lost only around 15 percent of their crops. Crop data is still being gathered along the Lowcountry and coastal regions for blueberries, according to the Department of Agriculture.
According to a release from the SCDA, farmers won’t know the full impact for uncertain until another three weeks.
South Carolina is the second largest peach producing state in the nation and the annual peach crop has a value of $90 million with a $300 million economic impact across the state.