Cold snap causes undetermined loss in blueberry crop

Blooms like these are going to be frozen out because of the cold weather (photo: Sydney Bouchelle/WWAY)

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The wacky weather in the Cape Fear region caused many plants to bloom early, specifically the blueberries.

“A lot of our early blooming blueberry varieties felt that warmth and said ‘okay it’s time to wake up,'” Pender County Cooperative Extension Director Mark Seitz said.

- Advertisement -

Only for them to be shocked with a wave of frigid temperatures.

“We’re basically 4 to 6 weeks ahead of where we should be normally with weather,” Seitz said. “We’re definitely going to see some injury and some crop loss.”

Seitz says farmers don’t typically start freeze protecting their plants until March.

They can’t start too early in case there are lots of cold days.

“Most of the times, these blooms, if they get that much water on them they get moldy and rotten,” he said.

Aside from becoming moldy, this weather causes another problem for the plants.

“Even though these blooms are out, bees aren’t working,” Seitz said. “So there’s no pollination activity.”

He says there’s definitely going to be a loss, but they won’t know how much–

“Until the last berry is picked in July and people really have time to look at their books and their sales it’s just hard to know exactly how much we lost,” Seitz said.

Fortunately, he says this will not impact the North Carolina Blueberry Festival.