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Ohio peach farms suffer cold losses

– Subzero temperatures during winter have badly hurt Ohio’s peach crop.

Peach trees that normally would be blooming are showing no signs of that at many Ohio orchards, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Bill Dodd, president of the Ohio Fruit Growers Marketing Association, said peach farmers brought sample buds to a February meeting, and each one was dead.

“Whether you want to say it was a polar vortex or whether you just want to say it was really, really cold, the peaches couldn’t survive that, so we’re looking at a difficult peach season here in Ohio,” Dodd said. “Mother Nature can be an evil wench sometimes.”

Orchard owner Marshall Branstool blames winter weather that swung temperatures from above freezing to below zero within days. He said buds on his 5,000-plus peach trees at Branstool Orchards in Utica turned black instead of green. That means he doesn’t have peaches to sell and will rely on insurance to cover part of that financial hit.

“Peaches are our bread and butter,” he said. “But you gotta put on your big-boy pants and deal with it. The weather is out of our control.”

He is considering trying to buy peaches from a grower in Pennsylvania if they’re available, but that’s no sure thing. Pennsylvania is among several other states whose peach crops were harmed by the cold.

Still, Branstool is optimistic because his trees survived the cold.

“We’ll be back next year,” he said.