Freeze destroys 90 percent of SC peaches - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Freeze destroys 90 percent of SC peaches

STATEWIDE (WIS) - South Carolina peach farmers are switching gears. Cold weather has devastated this year's crop. Now the focus is on to saving the state's peach market next year and beyond.

The Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture emerges from a three-hour-closed door meeting with South Carolina's peach farmers, and the outlook is bleak. Comissioner Hugh Weathers says according to South Carolina growers, "at best we'd be fortunate to have 10-percent of a crop."

Meaning, the recent cold-snap destroyed at least 90-percent of South Carolina's peach crop.

The head of the state's Peach Council, Larry Yonce, reacts to the news. "These growers are trying to make adjustments in their game-plan. The game plan has been destroyed."

Now the focus is on next year and beyond. Officials are trying to get federal aid for affected farmers in the form of low interest loans.

Yonce says those loans "could mean the difference between survival and non-survival."

Weathers says, "This is a stressful time, it's not just numbers we're dealing with. We are dealing with families. Farm families, also communities that depend on the farm economy."

So at the Farmers Market, you'll find apples, grapefruit, even oranges - from California. And, that's where our peaches wil probably come from too.

At this point officials say other crops are still a concern, like wheat and corn. Early reports show heavy damage to South Carolina's wheat and corn fields.

An assesment of just how bad the situation is - and whether the crops can be regrown - is expected by the end of the week. But much like the peach findings, officials are bracing for the worst.

Weathers says, "Mother Nature is our partner in this, and she's dealt us a pretty severe blow. And it will affect all of major food-producing areas in southeastern part of the United States."

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South Carolina could soon be a "disaster area"

Posted 6:01pm by Chantelle Janelle

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