Rain wreaks havoc upon fruit growers in Virginia
Weather across Virginia in 2018 will be remembered for all the unease it is causing the fruit industry orchardists said last week.
The rollercoaster weather during winter and spring is carrying into summer with more weather-related issues.
Tim Henley at Henley Orchard in Crozet blamed problems with his early peaches on too much rain.
In a telephone interview he said too much moisture caused seed crack ing which caused the peaches to break open.
He estimated that his early crop was about 50-60 percent but said his later peaches are improving.
He is still, however, seeing some problems with skin blemishes which just affect the skin. Overall, he reported the crop is looking better.
With apples, he said there has been so much rain the fungicides and sprays have not stayed on the trees, leading to increased disease.
Henley is relieved that so far his orchards have not suffered from hail. He said he understands a number of others have had a lot of hail damage.
Virginia Gold Orchard at Natural Bridge with about 2,000 Asian pear trees has had problems because of the weather.
Paul and Youngsuk “Su” Eastabrook operate this orchard. She estimated 30 percent of their crop is really good, 30 percent is okay, and 30 percent is lost.
She blamed the loss on lower than normal temperatures and higher than normal rainfall.
She reported troubles with fungus now beginning to grow.
In Cana, across the state, growers had varying estimates on their crops. Bob Leonard who grows about 50 acres of peaches and 40 to 45 acres of apples is expecting a 70 to 80 percent yield of peaches and 60 percent of apples.
He said the 95 to 95-degree weather has been tough on his fruit, causing a lot of sunburn.
Ricky Berrie of Berrie Orchards, Inc. reported his apple crop is expected to be about half of normal.
A nearby neighbor W. O. Hill, said the weather at his farm has been pretty good. He grows 18 different varieties of apples.
Bobby Williams from Rural Retreat in Wythe County, Va. said his peaches and pears froze and his apples had some damage.
For most of these growers, elevation and topography play a role.
Rural Retreat is known to be the highest point on the Norfolk and Western Railroad while Cana is one of the lower areas in Southwest Virginia lying at the bottom of the Blue Ridge. Crozet in Central Virginia is also at the base of the mountain range while Natural Bridge is on the opposite side of those mountains.
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