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FIND YOUR THRILL WITH BLUEBERRY CHILL

Posted by Ann Wildes at

SNOW!  Something you don't see very often in south Georgia.  On January 3, 2018, an estimated 4 inches of snow blanketed Bacon County, leaving streets and highways slippery and dangerous.  But the view out our window was absolutely breathtaking!  The snow covered everything, house tops, cars, driveways, fields of blueberries.  The amount of snow was highly unusual for this area of the state and, with cold weather lasting throughout the remainder of the week, it was Monday before the last of the snow was melted away. 

There doesn't seem to be any damage done to the blueberries.  In fact, depending on the varieties, blueberries need at least 400-700+ of chill hours to help them produce the best.  Chill hours are anything below 45 degrees. As you know, blueberry bushes cannot walk away if they don’t like the weather—they have to stay and suffer through it. Blueberries need a specific number of cold hours each winter to regulate their growth. If a blueberry bush doesn’t experience enough cold in the winter the flower buds might not open at all in spring, or they might open unevenly.

So while most folks around here were complaining about the cold, the little Georgia Blues really liked it.  Blueberry growers liked it too!  This is the first winter season in several years that we have reached or exceeded the amount of chill hours we need.  So growers in our "neck of the woods" are excited to have these cold temperatures right now. 

What we really didn't like was having a warm winter the end of 2016 and then in March of 2017 the temperatures dipped down into the 20's.  Our berry crop last year was totally destroyed due to this freeze.  It only took one night to ruin it all because the early varieties had little green berries already on them and the later varieties were mostly in full bloom.  What a disaster!! In just one night, we lost every berry we had.  Some of the local growers had overhead protection on some of their fields and stayed up all night making sure the water was pumping properly.  They were able to save a good portion of their berries.  Georgia was looking for about 100 million pounds of those little blues in 2017, but we ended up with only about 20 million.  Do you see how devastating a year that was!  So if we can keep the temperatures down until February and then the warm weather come in, we should be looking at a fabulous crop in 2018!  Thank the Lord!


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