Jersey Fruit Growers Worried About The Mild Winter [AUDIO]
Great winter in Jersey, mild temps, low snow. Not so great if you are a Jersey fruit farmer worried about premature budding.
All these days in the 40's and 50's can send the wrong message to apple and peach trees...also cherry trees and blueberries who can get faked out by the mild weather and start to bloom before their time. Rutgers tree fruit expert Jerry Frecon says, "we just know that if we start blooming before April 1st, the probability of injury is very high because usually in March, we are going to get temperatures below freezing." He says if they keep moving above 45 degrees, and they keep acting and keep activated and start to grow and start to show pink and start to show flowers, for example on Peaches, and the temperature goes below freezing, then we can have substantial injury.
He says there are some defenses,, using water for irrigation can raise tree temps a few degrees in a cold snap. Also wind machines. Frecon says the fruit growing industry in the Garden State has an estimated worth of 150-million dollars annually. There are about 65-hundred acres of what are called, "stone fruits", Peaches and Cherries. The Apple industry in New Jersey is about 25-hundred acres and we also have to worry about Blueberries, which is a big crop...about 5-thousand acres.