US growers are reporting poor numbers on this year’s peach and blueberry crops, with harvests impacted by a brutal winter, hail and cold in the spring and continuing issues with flooding.
The peach season normally begins about a week before July 4 and continues through mid-to-late-August, and although the peaches that are out there are reportedly in good shape, the numbers are “light” and many have been late to ripen.
“The Mississippi Valley is good peach-growing country,” said Elizabeth Wahle, a University of Illinois Extension Educator specializing in commercial agriculture. “Well-drained ground and a warm climate are essential.”
Cold winter temperatures are a growers worst nightmare, and unfortunately that’s exactly what the winter of 2018/19 brought — hard frosts can kill both the buds and tree.
“At minus 8 degrees or colder,” Wahle continued, “we start becoming concerned about how much loss there is.”
Wahle noted that the last major widespread loss of peaches due to cold temperatures occurred in 2007 (during the previous deep solar minimum, of cycle 23).
Many orchards are reporting light crops this year because of those brutal winter temperatures, while for others it was violent spring hail that did the damage.
Both the Hagen Family Orchard and Wiegel’s Orchard in Golden Eagle report no peaches for sale this year due to the hail in June. While Odelehr’s Market in Brussels said only one of its two orchards will have peaches, with the other suffering from both hail and cold weather earlier in the year.
And if you’re looking to replace your peach pie with a blueberry one, you’ll have to wait a little longer.
Many growers are saying their blueberry crops are ripening later than usual this year, thanks to the cool, wet spring, while the majority of u-pick operations are delaying their opening days by a week or more.
“The berries are late,” said Maureen Bacon, owner of Pleasant View Blueberry Farm in Cornish. “It’s a heck of a year because of the weather. But the berries are big and ripe and full.”
Blueberries can tolerate very cold temperatures, but they need to “harden off” first, explained David Handley, a veg and fruit specialist at the University of Maine’s Highmoor Farm in Monmouth.
The problems began last November, when a sudden, bitter bout of cold gripped the state. Then there was heavy, unrelenting snow which started early and then stuck around until late spring.
“Even though [blueberries are] native to this area,” Handley continued, “they’re not used to getting that cold that quickly. Such conditions are a sure recipe for winter damage.”
And, as if that wasn’t enough, May and June then suffered freakishly cold temperatures, which further stunted bud development. “That’s also why strawberries were two weeks late this year,” Handley pointed out.
Furthermore, lowbush (or wild blueberries) are also ripening well-behind schedule, according to Lily Calderwood, wild blueberry specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
The media may be portraying heat, heat and more heat across the lower-48, but the reality, as revealed by this year’s harvests, is telling an entirely different story.
Which to believe? A government agency such as NOAA, or mother nature?
The cold times are returning, as we enter the next Grand Solar Minimum.
Even NASA agrees, in part at least, with their SC25 forecast revealing it’ll be weakest solar cycle in the past 200 years (www.nasa.gov):
If you believe the sun controls our climate, as any person capable of independent thought should, then it’s time to prepare.
Grow your own.
Grand Solar Minimum + Pole Shift