What’s going on with peaches in South Georgia this year? Unfortunately, we have decided not to open our U-Pick Peach, Plum, and Nectarine Orchard this year. There are several weather related factors that determine our crop each year and this year was the worst to date for our trees. All of our summer crops need a certain amount of chill hours in the winter. This causes the plant to go into a dormant state that is similar to hibernation…just like we sleep at night to rest our bodies, the trees/plants need to rest in the winter. Warm temperatures in the winter confuse the plant, which can cause early blooms or prevent the plant from getting the rest it needs in a full dormant state. Two things happened this year. Our early varieties of plums and blueberries that don’t require as many chill hours had already started blooming, so when the late freeze happened they got wiped out b/c the blooms cannot stand weather below 32 degrees. On the other hand, the later varieties didn’t have enough cold weather. Then when the natural time came for warmer weather, the buds didn’t break their dormancy and bloom like they normally would. Because of this, we barely have a peach, nectarine, or plum crop. It affected the amount of blooms on almost everything that we grow but the tree fruit were hit the hardest. Where you might pick several gallons on one tree a day we now walk over the entire field and only get a couple gallons off of all of the trees. Because of this, we will not be opening our peach, plum, and nectarine orchard for U-Pick. We will walk over it every day and sell them in the store as they come in.
While the warm winter has been excellent for a long, productive strawberry season, it wasn’t so great for some of our other crops. The early spring-like temperatures made our plums and blueberries bloom early, and then the mid March freeze took out most of them, wiping out our early variety. The lack of chill hours led to a reduction in peach and nectarine yields because the buds were unable to break dormancy and bloom. Because of this, we will only have already picked peaches, plums, and nectarines in our store and will not be opening the orchard for u-pick this year. In the next couple of weeks, we look forward to blueberries and blackberries coming in (end of May or first of June). We’ve also planted tomatoes, squash, and peppers and will have sweet corn available this summer. We still have strawberries and hope to have them throughout the end of May!
Well as most of you in South Georgia already know, we’ve basically gone from Fall to Spring as Winter forgot to show up this year! That’s great for strawberries b/c as long as we frost protected the few nights we did have cold weather, we were able to go ahead and open the U-Pick fields in January! That’s a first for our 19 year old strawberry farm. So what does this mean for the rest of the season? We don’t actually know! Right now the amount of blooms we’re seeing (it takes 30 days for a bloom to become a ripe berry) it looks like we might peak in March instead of April, but hopefully we will still have strawberries until May, they just might not be as plentiful. We really won’t know until we get further into the season. And as usual in farming, what one crop needs another doesn’t so this warm winter also probably means little or no peach crop for our farm. Peaches and nectarines have to have a certain amount of chill hours in the winter and we just haven’t had the winter for a big peach crop. Peach trees lose their leaves and go through a dormant period in the Fall, which gives them a rest. They have to have this rest for the buds that were set the previous summer or else they can’t bloom. But, let’s not worry about that until peach season! Right now we have gorgeous, sweet strawberries waiting to be picked! We’ve fired up the ice cream and slushie machines (actually we never shut them down except one day that it was 30 degrees!). The playground is open with some new additions and we have a new shaded area that we created out of an old barn on the farm. As always, with the exception of a few swings, our playground is totally recycled! Check out our Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat accounts for the most up-to-date info on the farm!
I’m sorry I’ve been so behind with updating the blog…I seem to never get caught up these days! We have several things going on at the farm!
If you haven’t been this season, there is still time! The strawberries are still big, sweet, and gorgeous! We still have U-Pick and We-Pick available. We’ve also opened up the U-Pick blueberries, and one row of peaches and have plums coming in as well. Blackberries will still be another couple of weeks before they’re ready.
We have restocked the t-shirts so if you were waiting on a size/color combo, I have gotten in some of the Buy Local shirts this week, sizes ranging from youth XS to Adult 3X.
Another exciting development is that we convinced Daddy to plant some vegetables! It will be later in the summer before they’re ready but last week we planted the following:
straight & crooked neck squash
mucho nacho jalapeno peppers
I’m not sure yet if these will be already picked only or if we will allow u-pick for these. We will also continue to partner with our other friends in the farming community and bring you what they are growing when possible. And don’t forget on those hot days you can always stop in and get a delicious homemade ice cream cup or cone!
In shuffling our merchandise around as we are building the new store, we realized that we have some peanut flour that we need to sale quickly b/c the best by dates are August 2015. The flour will last up to another year if refrigerated or frozen, but we don’t need to sell it past August, so for this month, it will be on sale, at cost, if you purchase by the case. Visit http://www.southerngracefarms.com/peanutflour.html to view/purchase. Also, we’ve added a t-shirt page to our store (sorry for the look of the page…it’s homemade!) We are currently working on a new look for the website as well with search options, and just a better flow for information. Anyway, the t-shirts are super cute and we are offering them at cost also, prices ranging from $10-$12. You can view those here: http://www.southerngracefarms.com/shirts.html.
It’s strawberry picking time! We will have strawberries in season until sometime around the end of May or 1st of June. Our new store is still under construction but we are open for picking and usually have already picked berries in the cooler! Stop in at the office at Berrien Peanut Company for directions!