Many Fruit Growers Suffered Major Losses After Deep Freeze - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Many Fruit Growers Suffered Major Losses After Deep Freeze

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Pretty but damaged; The Bennett family said the majority of these peach blossoms will soon fall of the tree for good (Source: Evan Koslof) Pretty but damaged; The Bennett family said the majority of these peach blossoms will soon fall of the tree for good (Source: Evan Koslof)
There are approximately 2,500 trees on the Bennett farm (Source: Evan Koslof) There are approximately 2,500 trees on the Bennett farm (Source: Evan Koslof)
At Fifer Orchards, the family was able to keep in the 30's by using helicopters and other techniques (Source: Bobby Fifer) At Fifer Orchards, the family was able to keep in the 30's by using helicopters and other techniques (Source: Bobby Fifer)

FRANKFORD, Del.- It was a sullen morning for many peach growers, who lost a substantial amount of their crop during Wednesday morning's deep freeze. At Bennett Orchards, the family said they likely lost about 90 percent of their peaches in just a few hours. 

"It was just too cold for too long," said Hail Bennett. "And the blossoms just couldn't withstand it."

On Wednesday morning the family was out in the fields, assessing their approximately 2,500 trees, which typically create 500,000 peaches per season. While it's too soon to know for sure, the family said the state of the blossoms indicate that the crop is destroyed. 

"They've been frozen and they've been thawed," said Bennett. "And just like when you put a piece of produce in the freezer, if you pulled it back out and put it on your counter, it might look OK for a little while when it thawed. But later on that day or the next day it's going to turn brown and go to mush." 

Henry Bennett said that the last time the farm had this type of destruction was the year he was born in 1990. 

"This is the story throughout the mid-Atlantic region right now with peach growers," he said. "So it's not just us. I think it's New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, parts of North Carolina. Everybody took a beating last night from mother nature."

Peach buyers may see impacts as well. Since this impacted the entire region, there could be less local peaches on the shelves, and more form places like Georgia and South Carolina. At the Good Earth Market in Ocean View, Sue Ryan said prices may rise as well, due to the drop in supply. 

"If sale prices go up," she said. "The retail price follows. You know - there's a certain margin we have to make to keep the lights on. To keep us profitable. So unfortunately it all follows suit."

At T.S. Smith and Sons in Bridgeville, the family brought in a helicopter to fly above the crops, in an effort to send the warm air toward the crops. Nonetheless they said they suffered "substantial loss." 

At the Fifer Orchards in Camden-Wyoming, the family fared much better. The family had two helicopters flying, and also used water to create a "heat of fusion" to keep the temperatures int he low 30's. For that reason, Fifer Orchards is expecting less damage. 

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