Mother Nature Threatens Peach Crop

Friday, April 6th 2007, 9:00 pm
By: News On 6

People across Green Country who make their living in agriculture are worried about the freezing weather. News On 6 anchor Craig Day reports there’s concerns this year's Porter peach crop could be wiped out if it gets too cold Friday night.

Kent Livesay thought they might make it through the season without worrying about a springtime freeze, but it didn't work out that way.

"I guess if it was in the low 20's, it would pretty much totally wipe it out possibly," said Kent Livesay of Livesay Orchard.

When you're in agriculture, there is always worry about the weather. This time of year, below freezing weather and peaches aren't a good mix.

"It doesn't have to be cold very long, just 30 minutes or so is about all it takes to damage the crop," Livesay said.

Livesay is worried this year's crop could be lost. Temperature gauges are scattered through the orchard, and Oklahoma state researchers have brought several dozen heaters to warm the orchard as part of a research project. But that covers only about a four acre block and they have 140 acres to worry about. The orchard is even considering using helicopters to push warm air rising from the earth's surface, back to the ground to warm the peaches.

One thing that possibly could work in the orchard's favor is that the peach trees had a heavy bloom on trees this year, and ideally that would mean more fruit. So even with our late cold spell, the orchard may produce enough peaches for a decent crop, but that all depends on just how cold it gets.

"The thing is the difference between losing a few of them and losing almost all of them is just a couple of degrees," said Livesay.

For example if it gets to 25 degrees most of the crop will be lost, but 28 degrees will likely just thin out the crop a bit, no big deal. For now, there's not much else that can be done, just watch, wait and hope it doesn't get too cold.