Spring freeze causes blueberry shortage before Georgia Blueberry Festival

ALMA, GA (WTOC) - A freeze in March made some people wonder if there'd even be any blueberries at the annual Georgia Blueberry Festival.

Organizers tell WTOC a handful of growers of late variety berries have seen enough fruit the past few weeks they'll have some berries for folks to enjoy. The freeze almost completely wiped out the early varieties so it's taken until mid-season to see even a small yield of fruit.

On the positive side, the fraction of a crop will have in quality, what it doesn't have in quantity.

"It's certainly good to see some blue fruit and some green fruit that will ripen up as well. We're pleased to see that," said Renee Allen, with UGA Extension.

She's teaming with a researcher from the UGA labs to look at the fruit that has developed and what growers did in that field before the cold weather came.

"Our main goal is to try and understand what the effect of that freeze was and the different freeze protection methods that we use and how they affected the plant overall," said Dr. Rachel Itle, a UGA research scientist.

The pair says the fields that survived will generate blueberries but only for a few weeks. But they're glad to see some, for the handful of lucky growers and for their research.

These research experts hope their work can show growers how to better withstand the next freeze whenever it comes.

Festival organizers say everything will go on according to plan.

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