Carolina crops have been coming along nicely this spring. ( L&M Cos. )

Growers report good weather recently after some twists and turns during the winter months.

Chalmers Carr, president and CEO of Ridge Spring, S.C.-based peach shipper Titan Farms, said cold in March and April followed a warm February.

“It’s kind of odd the way it’s happened,” Chalmers said May 7.

“We would have really projected that we would have been very early this year because February warmed the ground up, things started to bloom, but then March and April were just below average daytime temperatures ...

“So we just had 80-degree weather and this weekend they’re forecasting 90-degree weather, but the one thing about it is our humidity has been low, so again we’ve seen very little disease pressure with the weather we’ve had, so we’re extremely excited about it,” Chalmers said.

“We’ve had plenty of rainfall, so all of our reservoirs are full, and we’re just ready to go for the summer.”

Titan Farms started very light volume on peaches May 7 and expects to continue harvesting for the next 16-17 weeks.

The company also began with broccoli the week of April 30 and plans to harvest over the next 5-6 weeks. Bell peppers and eggplant are projected to start around the first week of June and go for about seven weeks.

Chalmers said some peaches — mainly in low-lying areas — were lost to a freeze in early March but that most of the crop was not harmed.

“Fruit sizing looks great, and it’s a very clean crop,” Chalmers said. “We’re very excited. Demand is good and things are really looking good.”

Matt Solana, vice president of operations and supply chain for Autryville, N.C.-based Jackson Farming Co., said the company plans to go through early June with its strawberries.

The development of that crop and broccoli has been delayed some by colder weather.

“(We) saw an early start at the end of March on the harvest, then cold, wet and overcast days slowed the crop,” Solana said in late April.

“Hoping to get into a better weather pattern for May so that the plants can start to set the fruit as projected. Market has been good and the berries have been of excellent quality.”

The company expected to have broccoli starting the week of May 7 and going through the end of June.

Jackson Farming Co. also plans to harvest cantaloupes beginning about June 15 and going through August; seedless watermelons starting June 30 and running through September; and eastern honeydews starting around July 5 and finishing the first week in August.

“Of course what Mother Nature throws in from now until the start of the planned harvests is anyone’s guess,” Solana said.

“It has been a most interesting spring with snow and heavy frost into April.”

Cody Dunn, bell pepper product manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos., also noted spring has been cooler than usual but said the crop remains on schedule and yields should be on the higher end of the normal range.

“We have multiple products coming out of North Carolina, including colored potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, green bell peppers, open-field colored bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, cabbage, chili peppers, tomatoes and eggplant,” Dunn said April 30.

Christine Jackson, marketing manager for Pelion, S.C.-based WP Rawl, described the weather as unusual early and more normal of late.

“The early part of the year was tough with unseasonably cold weather and caused us to lose some crops,” Jackson said April 27.

“The passing months have brought warmer weather that has allowed our crops to grow in nicely. We envision a successful season for both our year-round and seasonal crops.”

Will Kornegay, senior vice president of sales and business development for Snow Hill, N.C.-based Ham Farms, said May 10 that recent weather has been ideal, without too much or too little of anything.

The company plans to begin harvesting red and green cabbage around the week of May 21.

Ham Farms also expects to begin watermelons the first week of July and hard squash in mid- or late July. Sweet potatoes will be along in late August or early September.

 

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