Peaches could be hard to come by this summer

GALES FERRY, Conn. (WTNH) — In farming circles this year’s February freeze became known as the Valentine’s Day Massacre because of its effect on peach trees.

peach tree 1Russell Holmberg says a third of his peach crop was wiped out, another third saw some damage, and the last third doesn’t seem to have been affected by the Valentine’s Day deep freeze.

“I’m kind of scratching my head because the peaches bred in New Jersey fared better in the winter than the Canadian pitches the two varieties bred in Canada,” says Holmberg who owns Holmberg Orchards. “It really is just hit or miss.peach tree 2

He says the difference of a single degree can make a difference in survival.

“What was as bad as the cold temperatures which here it got down to minus nine or so, minus ten depending on where you were in the orchard, was the warm weather we had in front of it,” says Holmberg.

The Gales Ferry farmer says because of the mild December and January the peach trees weren’t acclimated to the cold and weren’t ready for the frigid February weather.

“They froze on Valentine’s Day,” Tom Scott told News 8 in early April. He owns Scott’s Yankee Farmer in East Lyme and says his peaches were a total loss.

“It’s a lot of money,” says Scott. “I’d guess between $75,000 and $100,000 in peaches.”

peach tree 3Things looked bleak at Holmberg Orchards back then too until flowers started to emerge on their trees. Having different varieties of peaches could mean their losses will be less.

“There were some varieties that we were pretty ready to write off and as things have warmed back up again we’re thinking yeah there’s going to be something there,” says Holmberg. “There’s going to be peaches there.”

“It won’t be until mid May though that they’ll be able to see signs which will show whether or not the flowers will actually develop into fruit.

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