Cold weather puts Hill Country peaches in jeopardy

<p>STONEWALL, Texas (KXAN) — Peach farmers in the Hill Country have had enough of the freezing cold and icy weather. The most recent temperature swings could put their crop at risk, again.

Gillespie County produces more peaches than any other part of the state, but the last few seasons have been less than impressive.

“The last few years it’s been pretty bad,” said Herb Wahl, a peach farmer in Stonewall. “We haven’t really produced anything at all.”

Wahl’s peach grove hasn’t had any peaches in more than three years.  Right now his crop is at a critical stage for this upcoming season. This is the time of year when peach buds begin to bloom, and weather is key.

“We had some good warm weather there,” he said. “It was 80 degrees for a few days and they bloomed earlier then usual.”

But early blooms mean his crop is open, exposed, and vulnerable to low temperatures. About 30 percent of his crop has already bloomed.

Temperatures dropped as low as 19 degrees this week at Wahl’s farm, meaning about a third of his crop is in jeopardy of dying.

“In another two to three days we will know for sure whether the blossoms are going to fall off or if they will produce,” said Wahl.

If another freeze comes in 7-10 days things will look much like years past.

“If it gets another cold front, it gets warm, then another cold front comes in, we are in trouble,” Wahl said. “Hopefully this year we will have a good year for them.”

Last year Hill Country farmers were hit with a double blow. They lost their peach crop after temperatures dropped and a hail storm came in the middle of March.

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