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By ANUK Starff
Cooperative weather has led South Carolina peach and berry growers to expect a good season.
“We’ve been really fortunate lately as far as the weather is concerned with fruit and berry crops,” said Andy Rollins, a Clemson Extension agent in Spartanburg County, as reported by the Independent Mail.
“Things look pretty good right now for peaches and strawberries — but we dodged a bullet with the weather last month. Honestly, I can’t explain it scientifically.”
Douglas Bielenberg, Associate Professor of Plant Physiology at Clemson, noted that but an early warm up followed by a hard freeze can wreck the peach crop for the year, as it did in 2007. Bielenberg doesn’t see anything this year resembling the catastrophe that struck six years ago.
“It depends where you are for the peaches and how much the late cold affected them,” he said. “Those that didn’t get too heavily thinned by the cold are looking good, I think.
Amy Howard London, peach marketing specialist for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, said, “The South Carolina peach growers are anticipating a good season in 2013. The harvest volume will be normal, and is expected to begin the second week in May and last through August. The trees are in good shape, and no unusual flowering problems have occurred.”
Averaging $90 million in value annually, Peaches are the state’s most valuable and widely produced fruit. South Carolina is consistently the nation’s second-largest peach-producing state behind California and ahead of neighboring Georgia.
Strawberries, blackberries and blueberries also seem on target this year.
“There have been some serious virus problems on strawberries in other states, but we haven’t found it so far in South Carolina,” Rollins said. “There are two viruses involved, and you need to have both to have the problem. We’re keeping a close watch on it, but our transplants come from a different area than the ones that have affected other states, so we’re pretty hopeful at this stage.”
So far, the weather has proven conductive to berry growth.
“We’ll keep our fingers crossed for continued good weather,” Rollins said. “It’s been a little dry, but the majority of our strawberry crop is under drip irrigation, so we can make our own rain if we need to.”
South Carolina Update