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February 5, 2016

How the El Niño Weather Pattern is Affecting Peach Crops and Other Farms in the Southeast

This winter’s unseasonably warm weather due to the El Niño pattern has been greatly welcomed by most, but not so for some ag producers in the southeastern portions of the country. Producers such as blueberry and pecan growers have experienced a packet of woes from the warm weather that spread across the Southeast in December and January.

For pecan producers, the warm, wet weather in December actually hindered harvesting, according to an article offered by the University of Georgia. Extension agent Lenny Wells was quoted in his explanation of how the humid and damp conditions caused many pecans to rot on the branch while waiting for harvest. However, in a hopeful ending, the damages to the end crop were not as bad as producers had feared.

There might not be as happy an ending for growers whose products require a minimum number of chill hours to put out a quality harvest. For blueberry and peach producers, the season could be a poor one. In addition to the damage that muddy soils can do to bushes and trees, many plants are either likely not going to get enough chill hours or they’ve been tricked into budding and setting fruit early. According to the UGA piece, seeing blooms and fruit on blueberry bushes in December is truly extreme, and any fruit already on the bush is in danger of freezing if a cold snap comes through. Additionally, those varieties that haven’t gotten their minimum number of chill hours—or even close to the minimum—might not produce a healthy crop, further threatening the season’s blueberry crop.

Luckily, the region’s peanut crops have not been affected as peanuts are planted in spring—typically April or May—and harvested in September through October. Whichever way the seasons end, the country’s ag producers will weather the stormy or fair weather. As the nation’s premier land lender, AgAmerica Lending takes pride in helping the country’s ag industry to bounce back or take advantage when opportunity knocks through farm lending with our low-interest rates, long amortizations, and an outstanding 10-year line of credit.

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