Blueberries under threat due to potential freeze

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - One of our region's newest crops hangs in the balance with this weather overnight.

Blueberry fields could see major damage if temperatures fall below freezing for even a few hours.

So, you won't find many South Georgia blueberry growers counting sheep to fall asleep. Most will be watching the thermometer to see if one freeze turns their crop to a bust before it even gets started.

Albert Wildes, a blueberry grower, said, "We've been asking all along when is the cold coming, is there going to be any cold. Are we going to slide by it?"

The blooms can handle temperatures in the upper 20's. However, the water inside the bloom will freeze and ruin the berry.

"If we can stay above 32 degrees, we'll slide by," Wildes continued. "If we go below 32 degrees, there's so much of this crop that is vulnerable."

Wildes sprayed a potassium-based fertilizer to act as a blanket on the plants. Others will spray water or use any other method they hope will work.

"There's a lot of merit in all of them, but not a lot of science in any of them," Wildes said.

After producing 40 million pounds of berries last year, he and others are willing to try anything they think could help.

It will be the end of the week or early next week before they know whether they've survived.

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