Blueberry farmers preparing for freezing weather

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 5:18 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - This potential freeze this weekend has blueberry growers on edge, with their crop in danger.

A freeze now could give the plants damage that they can’t overcome.

You or I could stand here and maybe not feel the temperature drop one degree or two. But these blueberries will. It could be “touch and go” for a few days. Folks in the blueberry business say it’s not so much because of freezing weather now, but the warm weather earlier this month.

A mild winter gave South Georgia blueberries a false start. Appling County extension agent Shane Curry says they’re about three weeks ahead of where they should be on the calendar.

“When you don’t get enough of the cold - the ‘chill hours’ that we need, and they get the warm weather, it’s time for them to start growing,” said Shane Curry, UGA Extension Agent.

But that early start sets them up for shock when a freeze like this comes. The later the blooms, the more cold they could withstand.

“Once you start seeing the petals on there, then we’re in that range where 25 to 28 degrees could hurt.”

According to UGA’s Extension Service, Georgia’s blueberry crop grows mainly in ten counties but brings more than $300 million to the state economy. Curry says it’s now wait and see.

“Right now, fingers are crossed, praying, hoping that we get a few degrees warmer and it wouldn’t take but a few degrees and we’ll squeak through this.”

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