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Why peaches might be hard to find this year

Drew Kann, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

Just weeks ago, many of the trees on Lawton Pearson’s farm 30 miles southwest of Macon were loaded with quarter-sized fruit and pink flowers, early signs that a plentiful crop of Georgia’s famed peaches was on the way.

Now, most of those same tiny peaches and blooms are rotting off the branches and falling to the ground, Pearson said.

The culprit? An exceptionally warm winter followed by several days of freezing temperatures this month, which Georgia peach farmers fear inflicted a brutal, one-two punch that may have wiped out much of their crop.

Farmers say it could be weeks before the full extent of the damage comes into view. But early estimates indicate 60% or more of the state’s peach crop may have been destroyed by the recent weather whiplash, according to Dario Chavez, an associate professor and peach specialist based at the University of Georgia’s Griffin campus.

“We’ll know in probably two weeks exactly what we have,” said Pearson, a fifth-generation peach farmer and a partner at Pearson Farm near Fort Valley. “But right now, the suspicion is that we were hurt from both sides — warm weather and four cold days in March.”

Big crop losses in Georgia and neighboring South Carolina could mean more peaches from California will be in the produce aisles than local shoppers are accustomed to, and it could mean peaches are a bit pricier this summer.


Scientists say human-caused climate change is making Georgia’s winters warmer and contributing to more extreme temperature swings.

This year’s winter whipsaw triggered the latest in a string of painful crop losses that have hit Georgia’s most profitable fruit crops in recent years. Around 80% of Georgia’s peaches fell victim to a freeze in 2017. The state’s blueberries have also been thinned by several late winter and early spring cold snaps, including one in March 2022 that caused heavy damage on many farms.

Some Georgia blueberry farmers say they also fear damage to this year’s crop.

Lack of chill bedevils plants


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