Deep Freeze Could Devastate Local Fruit Growers - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Deep Freeze Could Devastate Local Fruit Growers

Posted: Updated:
At Bennett Orchards, there are about 2,500 peach trees, all of which are vulnerable (Source: WBOC) At Bennett Orchards, there are about 2,500 peach trees, all of which are vulnerable (Source: WBOC)
T.S. Smith and Sons in Bridgeville hired a helicopter to fly above the crops overnight. (Source: WBOC) T.S. Smith and Sons in Bridgeville hired a helicopter to fly above the crops overnight. (Source: WBOC)

FRANKFORD, Del. - At the family-owned Bennett Orchards in Frankford, it's pretty unlikely that anyone will be sleeping Tuesday night. Instead the family will likely have their eyes glued to the thermometer, hoping to avoid a "catastrophic loss" of crops. 

"We're looking at losing our entire year's income in a few hours," said Hail Bennett. "In just one cold night." 

The orchard holds approximately 2,500 trees, each capable of producing about 200 peaches. All in all, their farm grows approximately half-a-million peaches in a normal season. This year, that number could be zero if the temperatures drop too low. 

"Not much you can do about it," said Bennett. "That's the worst part about it. Hands are tied in most situations like this. And you just need to stay up all night and think warm thoughts. That's all you can really do." 

Bennett said that the vulnerability was primarily caused by the warm March weather on Delmarva, which caused thousands of peaches to bloom early. Now with the deep freeze anticipated, they could all be destroyed. His brother Henry said that the crucial temperature to watch for is 28 degrees.

"What we're worried about tonight," he said, as he opened up a peach blossom. "Is anything below 28 degrees. If you open this up tomorrow it will turn brown. And it's going to basically kill the blossom which is not going to turn into fruit."

Meanwhile there is the same situation at T.S. Smith and Sons in Bridgeville. The Smith family grows many crops, but it's their peaches and apples that are vulnerable Tuesday night. To try and help, the family hired a pilot to fly a helicopter over the crops all night. This creates a "thermal inversion" that can increase temperatures by a few degrees. 

Matt Smith said the helicopter could save their peach season. 

"If we were to sit at home tonight and do absolutely nothing," he said. "And we lose it, then we've done nothing. if we try and still lose, than at least we can say in the end we did try and save our crop. And that's what it's all about." 

This is not just a problem on Delmarva, but across the region as well. If the freeze does kick in, that could mean higher peach prices this summer.

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Dorchester County Launches 'Go Purple' Campaign

    Dorchester County Launches 'Go Purple' Campaign

    Jul 18, 2018 8:25 PM2018-07-19 00:25:00 GMT
    Wednesday, July 18 2018 8:25 PM EDT2018-07-19 00:25:26 GMT
    CAMBRIDGE, Md. - Purple is on its way to Dorchester County. On Wednesday, at least 30 organizations in the county say they're on board to launch the Dorchester Goes Purple campaign. In September, organizers say the county will turn many buildings purple, More
    CAMBRIDGE, Md. - Purple is on its way to Dorchester County. On Wednesday, at least 30 organizations in the county say they're on board to launch the Dorchester Goes Purple campaign. In September, organizers say the county will turn many buildings purple, More
  • New Details Emerge on Five Bald Eagles Found Dead in Easton

    New Details Emerge on Five Bald Eagles Found Dead in Easton

    Jul 18, 2018 8:12 PM2018-07-19 00:12:00 GMT
    Wednesday, July 18 2018 8:13 PM EDT2018-07-19 00:13:31 GMT
    While driving down Glebe Road back in January 2017, Troy Whaley discovered the lifeless bodies of at least three eagles in a field just off the road.More
    While driving down Glebe Road back in January 2017, Troy Whaley discovered the lifeless bodies of at least three eagles in a field just off the road.More
  • For Some Relatives of Inmates Not Charged in Delaware Prison Riot, Some Challenges Have Emerged

    For Some Relatives of Inmates Not Charged in Delaware Prison Riot, Some Challenges Have Emerged

    Jul 18, 2018 6:43 PM2018-07-18 22:43:00 GMT
    Wednesday, July 18 2018 6:43 PM EDT2018-07-18 22:43:10 GMT
    The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Del. (Photo: WBOC)The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Del. (Photo: WBOC)
    The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Del. (Photo: WBOC)The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Del. (Photo: WBOC)
    WILLOW GROVE, Del. --- Linda Butcher of Willow Grove used to be able to see her son Aaron, an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, once a week. But that changed last year when inmates seized control of C Building, where Aaron was housed, in More
    WILLOW GROVE, Del. --- Linda Butcher of Willow Grove used to be able to see her son Aaron, an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, once a week. But that changed last year when inmates seized control of C Building, where Aaron was housed, in More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Delmar Native Serves at MLB All Star Game As Nationals' Grounds Keeper

    Delmar Native Serves at MLB All Star Game As Nationals' Grounds Keeper

    WBOC Sports Director Matt Pencek was in Washington, DC at Nationals Park for the MLB All-Star Game. He profiles Jeff Fleetwood from Delmar who finds himself at Nationals Park and on the field but not as a player.

    More

    WBOC Sports Director Matt Pencek was in Washington, DC at Nationals Park for the MLB All-Star Game. He profiles Jeff Fleetwood from Delmar who finds himself at Nationals Park and on the field but not as a player.

    More
  • 42nd Annual Crab & Clam Bake Comes to Crisfield

    Wednesday is a day full of clams, crabs, and politics at the 42nd Annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield.

    Putting on an event of this magnitude takes a lot of planning. In fact, event organizers say the plans start right back up the day after the clam bake.

    More

    Wednesday is a day full of clams, crabs, and politics at the 42nd Annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield.

    Putting on an event of this magnitude takes a lot of planning. In fact, event organizers say the plans start right back up the day after the clam bake.

    More
  • Police Still Searching for Suspect in Viral Video of Neighborhood Brawl

    Police Still Searching for Suspect in Viral Video of Neighborhood Brawl

    The video involves hundreds of people and a car one man used as a weapon, according to Cambridge Police. In the video, there are screams of terror as one man, police identified as 24 year-old Craig Wallace, drives the car into a group of people, knocking some down to the ground. Later in the video, the car rams into another car, barely missing one person. Police say Wallace's brother broke his leg in the incident in what appears to be a family conflict.

    More

    The video involves hundreds of people and a car one man used as a weapon, according to Cambridge Police. In the video, there are screams of terror as one man, police identified as 24 year-old Craig Wallace, drives the car into a group of people, knocking some down to the ground. Later in the video, the car rams into another car, barely missing one person. Police say Wallace's brother broke his leg in the incident in what appears to be a family conflict.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices