What’s Growing On: Red, White & Blues Farm bounces back after late-season freeze

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 6:25 PM EDT
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WILLISTON, Fla. (WCJB) - Red White and Blues Farm is hosting their first ever Peach Festival beginning on Saturday, and hosting the event this year didn’t come without some adversity from our weather.

Thomas Addison, farm manager at Red, White & Blues, says “there’s nothing more devastating or heartbreaking than going through a whole season trying to grow a crop and then you get right there at the goal line and it’s just gone.”

That was the circumstance he along with the team at the farm were left with after a late-season freeze in early March.

Addison explains the peaches “were in one of the most critical phases of bloom where they’re kind of the most sensitive to cold temperatures”. That stage is known as the flowering phase, which is a very sensitive time for the crop.

Addison notes events like these are rare because the time of year and growing phase have to be in near-perfect alignment to make the peaches vulnerable to the cold, so “the orchard may have been planted for 5 years, bearing fruit for 4 years or so. During that time it’s just very likely that there just hasn’t been a cold event during that really vulnerable stage of flowering.”

The orchards are watered through micro-jet irrigation, which Addison adds is good at using water more sparingly and efficiently, but not as effective when it comes to freeze events.

After consulting with UF IFAS, along with their own assessment, the farm has decided to switch to the overhead watering system used for their blueberries and strawberries, which survived the winter months.

The farm lost roughly 95% of all their peaches in the freeze, but despite that, there’ll still be five to ten thousand pounds of the stone fruit at this weekend’s festival.

That’s due to the helping hand of friendly farmers across the sunshine state.

Graham Farms in Eustis is supplying most of this years peaches that will be in just in time for the festival.

The fun begins this Saturday at 10 AM and ends with a peach cobbler eating contest on Memorial Day. For more info on tickets and to register for the contest, visit here.

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