Peach Farmer Watches as Cold Snap Ruins Crop Robert Chapman, a farmer in central Georgia, says he has been hit hard by unusually cold temperatures. Chapman tells Melissa Block that he has lost all his crops, from peaches, pears and plums to blueberries and pecans, during a 25-degree Easter Sunday freeze.
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Peach Farmer Watches as Cold Snap Ruins Crop

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Peach Farmer Watches as Cold Snap Ruins Crop

Peach Farmer Watches as Cold Snap Ruins Crop

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G: major crop losses in many states, from Missouri to Kentucky Georgia. Nearly all of South Carolina's peach crop was destroyed by freezing temperatures last weekend. It's about the same for peaches and apples in Kentucky. Pecans and blueberries also were hit hard. Robert Chapman lives in Zebulon in Central Georgia. He's lost all of his crop. He's got 25 acres of peaches, five acres of pecans, some blueberries, too - all destroyed by the spring freeze.

ROBERT CHAPMAN: It got down to 25 degrees at 2:00 Sunday morning - Easter morning.

: And that was the coldest point?

CHAPMAN: That was the coldest point, as far as I know.

: How long did it stay cold?

CHAPMAN: Oh, about 12 hours. It took out the pecans, the peaches, pears, plums, blueberries. It took everything out down here.

: That first morning after the deep freeze, when you went out to look at the trees, did you know what to expect?

CHAPMAN: Yeah. Oh, I knew it because I was up all night. I was watching the temperature. You know, I knew what the temperature had done, and I know the peaches can't stand but just so much, you know, a freeze.

: So was there a point at which you were looking at the thermometer thinking well, what's it. It's just gone now?

CHAPMAN: Well, I didn't know that - you know, I went out Sunday morning, and everything looked bad then. But then Sunday night - you know, I also got a perspective, you know, it's going to be better than what I thought. But Sunday night, when I looked at them, I knew they was gone.

: Have you counted out how much you've lost?

CHAPMAN: No. I don't never go with that. You know, Mother Nature, when it works against me, there's nothing I can do about it. We lost everything down here, not just myself, but all my neighbors, you know, even farther south.

: When you go out to look at around your orchards what do you see?

CHAPMAN: Well, right now, the orchard's in good shape, but you know, all the fruit that's one them is dead.

: Is it black?

CHAPMAN: Yeah, when you cut into them, they're black on the inside. But as far as the tree, no, it's good and green, you know. It's not showing no damage on the tree.

: How big would the peaches be at this time of year that you're looking at?

CHAPMAN: They're about the size of (unintelligible), about the size of a dime.

: Is there anything you can do when you know that it's - that a freeze is coming in, is there anything you can do to protect your trees and your bushes?

CHAPMAN: No, not under 28 degrees, you can't. You can put the water system on them, you know, but it don't work under 28 degrees. But see, now you can't burn no petroleum products, you know, like tires. We used to burn tires years back, and you get a smoke settlement in there, you can increase temperature 3 to 4 degrees. But, you know, now you can't do that no more.

: You could burn tires, you're saying?

CHAPMAN: Yeah. We used to burn old, you know, car tires.

: Mr. Chapman, you mentioned a water system. Is this where you cover the fruit with water, it freezes, and somehow that protects them?

CHAPMAN: Right. What you do, you pump water out of the pond. It's 58 degrees. You pump it on there until the ice melts off, and that'll save the buds.

: And you couldn't do that this time?

CHAPMAN: No.

: Do you have crop insurance to protect for something like this?

CHAPMAN: No, no I don't. I had it one year, but they didn't even pay my expenses, so I never took it again.

: Well, what do you do when you've lost all your crop for the year?

CHAPMAN: Well, it gets tough. It really does. I might go get a job at Home Depot now.

: You know, you'll need to do something - something new.

CHAPMAN: Yeah. Well, I grow cows. I grow fish, too. I've always got by before with the good Lord's help. I'll get through it. You just can't buck Mother Nature.

: Well, Mr. Chapman, it's good of you to talk with us. Best of luck to you.

CHAPMAN: Okay, I appreciate talking to you.

: That's Robert Chapman, a farmer in Zebulon, Georgia. Farmers across the Southeast are expecting another freeze next week.

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