Blueberry crop loss estimated at $200 million in South Georgia - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Blueberry crop loss estimated at $200 million in South Georgia

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

A few hours of freezing weather last week may have cost South Georgia blueberry growers their entire crop and more than $200 million to our region's economy.

If you want to know what heartbreak looks like, walk through a blueberry field to see the damage from the freezing weather last week.

Allen Miles saw all too well what a few hours of sub-freezing temperatures can do to the blooms and berries that had covered 375 acres of bushes.

“The flowers with petals on them could withstand 28 degrees,” said Allen Miles, Grower. “But at 21 degrees, nothing survived.”

They could see the devastation within hours. Allen figures his rabbit eye varieties will lose 80 to 90 percent of their fruit, high bush varieties about half of that.

"Economically speaking, that's gonna translate to, in Appling County alone, about $20 to $25 million," said Miles.

It will likely hurt not only growers, but anybody that does business with them.

“We're down to 50 people doing what 400 were doing. So, we're down 350 employees,” said Miles.

"Those are folks who came here, spent money here, bought gas bought food, that's a lot of money spent," said Shane Curry, UGA Extension Agent.

The remaining crew Allen still has sprayed to try and save bushes from fungus and other problems that could hurt these fields for years to come. He says one year of losses will be bad enough.

Growers with insurance could get repaid for about half their crop. Allen hopes those companies settle up sooner than later so growers can start to focus on next year.

As growers wait for insurance companies to decide what they'll do, all they can do is watch and wait. 

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