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Farmers say crops are better than ever
If weather continues this way, peaches likely available soon
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Juan Paramo, left, and Agustín Gallardo, right, pick strawberries Wednesday at Jaemor Farms in Lula. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Despite Mother Nature being wishy-washy during the early stages of their growing season, area farmers say their strawberry crops are better than ever.

"Assuming it doesn't start raining day after day now, it looks like we're going to have a bigger strawberry crop than last year," said Drew Echols, farm manager at Jaemor Farms.

In February, the National Weather Service reported the 60-degree weather was around five to 10 degrees higher than average.

That same month, Jaemor had a false start on its strawberry season when some of the plants began to sprout prematurely.

The following month, the weather service issued several freeze warnings.

"The weather was real back and forth, and it was kind of touchy at times," Echols said.

"We had to cover our strawberries five times because of the threat of frost while they were blooming. It was an added cost to production, but you have to if you want to try and save your crop."

It has been smooth sailing since the weather returned to more predictable patterns.

"We picked our first strawberries to sell on April 8, last year we did it on April 24," Echols said.

"The warmer temperatures in February really pushed things along. We were able to pick ripe berries about two weeks ahead of our normal season. That's a good thing, because it gives us a longer season and our customers more time to enjoy them."

If the weather continues this way — moderate warmth during the day and not too cool at night — Echols says its very likely customers may be able to enjoy fresh peaches sooner too.

According to the Farmer's Almanac, Saturday will be the first good day for area growers to begin planting their summer vegetable crops.

Plants such as summer corn, melons, squash and tomatoes will do well if planted then, experts say.

The almanac also says Monday begins the ideal, two-day window for planting crops such as beets, carrots, radishes and leafy vegetables.

For optimal sunlight exposure, University of Georgia Extension office staff suggest planting tall-growing crops such as okra and corn on the north side of other lower crops.

The Extension office also recommends having a second round of planting within two to three weeks of the first one.

 

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