Rough Winter Spoils Brooks County Peaches

Brooks County Peaches
Posted at 5:00 PM, Mar 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-17 08:17:00-04

MORVEN, GA (WTXL) -- In Brooks County, the weather has been ravaging peach orchards and costing local farmers thousands of dollars in business.

It's slim pickings for Irvin Lawson. His family has owned hundreds of acres in Morven since the fifties, but he says the end is near.

"I think the whole state -- the peaches have just suffered," he said, adding that the past several years have been challenging. He lost his whole crop in 2013.

"What few we picked, we just did a field run and sold them locally right there at the packing shed," Lawson said. "Looks like that's what we're going to do this year."

When temperatures drop below 45 degrees, it's considered "chill hours." The peaches require a certain amount of "chill hours," but when the temperature dips below freezing, that's when it gets dangerous.

"Last night, when it got down to 26 degrees here, it stayed there too long," Lawson said. "I don't think we'll be picking any of those."

Mild winters don't give crops enough time to chill, and late freezes like Wednesday night can ruin months of hard work

"Every year, I think it's going to bounce back," Lawson said, "but maybe, it's time to get out of the peach business."

While the future looks bleak for Lawson, he's holding onto hope that some of his peaches hang on.

"Certainly have more limbs on the tree, more fruit on the wood," Lawson said, talking about trees that haven't been pruned yet, "so, maybe there's a better chance of survival."