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Record cold temperatures could impact Middle Ga. blueberry crop

Blueberry crops could suffer from this week's cold weather / Jennifer Munoz (WGXA)

FORT VALLEY, Ga. -- Record cold weather visits Middle Georgia this week, but the damage may be seen later this spring at the grocery store.

Georgia's peach crop is now is mid-blossom and farmers have some concerns with the cold temperatures coming to the area.

"At this point we really don't want to much more cold weather and certainly not below freezing," said Lee Dickey with Dickey Farms. "Hope to not have a frost or anything."

He said even with a little freeze, peach lovers should not worry about the crop.

"There is still going to be plenty of great peaches," Dickey said. "I mean some people might argue even in a short year the peaches are a little better."

For blueberry farmer Don Taylor of Sunshine's Berry Farm in Fort Valley, the cold weather could work in his favor.

"Cold weather is actually beneficial to the crop because if you get a frost that kills off some of the blossom than the remaining berries will be larger," Taylor said.

However, with Wednesday night temperatures hitting well below freezing more berries might be killed than what's expected.

"Five or six hours of below freezing temperatures, that's going to have a major impact," Taylor said.

He added in order to protect the berries they would have to put a long cloth along all 17 rows.

"Can we put it out on all the rows and then retrieve it?"asked Taylor. "I don't know, so we might leave this one up to Mother Nature."

Blueberries more recently became Georgia's leading crop. Just last year Sunshine's Berry Farm sold more than 1,200 pounds of berries.

Now Taylor hopes the cold temperatures won't drastically impact this years season.

"Ideally happen, I would like to see 15 to 20 percent of the the blossoms to be killed and the rest of them survive," Taylor said.

He said he thinks more blossoms will be frozen off with this week's cold weather than what he hopes.

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