Eat a peach!
It’s no secret that this past winter was the coldest in recent memory. Temperatures were below freezing for much of the season and the snow seemed endless. Winter did more than just freeze our toes during the frigid months. Seasonal crops were affected by the cold snap and this summer everything from figs to peaches are seeing a crunch.
If your favorite summer fruit is the peach, be aware that this picking season will be shorter and a bit sporadic. I spoke with Hail Bennett, owner of Bennett Orchards, who explained why the peaches would be less bountiful than in seasons past. He said that while generally they worry about the final spring freeze killing peaches already in bloom (which happens about April 10 or so), this year saw deep freezes that killed blooms well ahead of spring.
Trees are normally pretty tough, but anything below minus 10F has potential to damage the crop. In January, temperatures dropped to an astounding minus 14F in sections of the orchard. Those cold pockets killed off dormant blooms. Bennett said this is the first year that they have had to deal with such low temperatures. Combined with the roller coaster temperatures (that went from 50F one week to well below freezing the next), made it a stressful winter for even the hardiest trees.
Bennett Orchards grows about 18 varieties of peaches, some of which do better than others with the cold snaps. And, the ever-optimistic Bennett is quick to add, “It could be worse. It’s not a great year, but it’s not a terrible year. There will be good peaches.”
At my home, our four-year-old fig tree took a beating, with all the top branches dying off. Lucky for us, the tree didn’t die and is growing up from the bottom. It's basically starting anew.
There are some crops that weathered just fine, though. Blueberry season came through beautifully, and though it is winding down, you may still catch a day or two of picking. Keep your eyes on the Bennett Orchards website or call for days when the picking is good. You can find more information on optimal picking days by contacting Bennett Orchards at 302-732-3358 or going to www.bennettorchards.com.
Billie Criswell is a local writer specializing in lifestyle and public relations. Read her blog at www.bossyitalianwife.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.