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Mid-Ohio Valley farmers report fruit harvest losses

Parkersburg News and Sentinel Photo by Jolene Craig Cathy Burch, owner of Hidden Hills Orchard on Ohio 26 in Marietta, prunes one of the 20 varieties of apple trees in preparation for the coming season. Despite the harsh winter, Burch and her husband, Tom, expect a full harvest from the apple trees, but have lost all of the peaches and majority of cherries to the frigid temperatures.
Parkersburg News and Sentinel Photo by Jolene Craig
Cathy Burch, owner of Hidden Hills Orchard on Ohio 26 in Marietta, prunes one of the 20 varieties of apple trees in preparation for the coming season. Despite the harsh winter, Burch and her husband, Tom, expect a full harvest from the apple trees, but have lost all of the peaches and majority of cherries to the frigid temperatures.

MARIETTA – Below-freezing temperatures in the Mid-Ohio Valley this winter haven’t affected some fruit crops while others did not fare so well, according to local growers.

“The cold hasn’t hurt the apple crop – the trees can tolerate it, but the peaches are a total loss,” said Tom Burch, owner of Hidden Hills Orchard in Marietta. “I think the same is also true for the sweet cherries, too.”

Burch said the fruit of peach trees only comes from first-year growth and is susceptible to cold temperatures, partly because the fruits grow from the most exposed part of the tree.

“We have taken buds from several trees, cut them open and looked at it under a microscope, and it appears they are all dead,” he said. “I was at a farmers’ meeting last week and it is pretty much the same for the whole state of Ohio – there will be no peach crop this year.”

Burch and his wife, Cathy, have 150 peach trees of two varieties – Glowing Star and Blazing Star – they believe are a complete loss for this season’s crop.

“We have even tried clipping limbs and placing them in water in our home to see if the buds are viable, but they aren’t blooming, which means they are dead,” he added.

Along with the peaches are the 80 cherry trees, including sweet varieties Rainier and Skeena that are likely not going to bloom, Burch said.

“We haven’t tested the cherries yet, but the sweet varieties tend to be affected by the cold around the same temperatures of peaches, so I am sure they are a loss, too,” he continued.

Temperatures tend to have a negative impact on peaches between 10 and 20 degrees below zero and Burch said he recorded minus 16 degrees one night during the January polar vortex…

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