A freeze warning is in effect for Aiken County and surrounding counties until 9 a.m. today, prompting Edgefield County peach farmers to keep a close eye on their crops.
Temperatures are forecast to drop into the upper-20s to low-30s this morning with sub-freezing temperatures imminent or highly likely, according to the National Weather Service in Columbia.
These conditions can kill crops and other sensitive vegetation.
As of press time Thursday, several peach farmers in Edgefield County said an estimation of how much damage a freeze could inflict at this growing stage is purely speculative.
Not only are forecasters not accurate 100 percent of the time, Mother Nature is a fickle thing, they said.
“There probably could be some damage in the low spots, depending on how cold it gets and how long. But, there are a lot of factors,” said Sonny Yonce with J.W. Yonce & Sons Inc. “It's probably not even useful to speculate. All I can say is, 'Stay tuned.'”
If there is any damage to the crop, the extent will be determined by a number of factors as alluded to by Yonce, including temperature, wind movement, duration of cold and location.
Titan Farms owner Chalmers Carr said his information indicates the overnight low will be 32 degrees with light and variable winds after midnight. Wind can stir warm air above the orchard back down and raise the temperature, which could stave off freeze damage, he said.
However, Carr believes if the temperature dips into the mid-20s and lingers there, the potential exists for more than minimal damage.
In 2007, an April freeze ravaged most of the peaches in the southeastern part of the country.
Some peach trees are just now starting to bloom, while others haven't yet started. That can help protect the crop, too, as many blooms may still be dormant and not susceptible to the cold.
“If there is a time for freezing, it is now,” Yonce said.
Today will be mostly cloudy with a high near 57 degrees.
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