Climate Change Devastated Georgia's Peach Crop
An unusually warm winter meant that peaches were more expensive than normal
Georgia is well-known for being the home of delicious peaches, which are supplied throughout the country, producing more than 40 tons of the fruit (85 percent of the crop) just in 2016 alone. But because the climate is changing, the state went through an usually warm winter, which spelled devastation for Georgia’s peach crop, according to FiveThirtyEight. Though Georgia is also the country’s top producer of pecans, peanuts, and vidalia onions, and not peaches (California is responsible for the largest peach crop), it’s still famous for the sweet and fuzzy fruit, the prices for which have gone sharply upward as the crop has suffered this year.
In late June, CBS reported that the crop loss was a “disaster” for farmers, who lost millions of dollars along with almost all the peach crop in the state. Dickey Farms, one of the oldest peach farms in the state, lost 75 percent of its crop this year. Lee Dickey told CBS that last year, the farm produced 8 million pounds of this year, but in 2016, only 2 million pounds. The climate is to blame for the severe reduction in the peach crop, CBS reports, unusually warm weather followed unseasonably cold weather, killing off most of the state’s crop.
Other crops have been compromised in recent years due to climate changes as well, FiveThirtyEight reports. In 2014, California’s cherry crop decreased significantly, increasing prices by around $2 per pound, KQED reported at the time. Georgia’s peach crop had held relatively steady before 2017, but the absence of a proper chill period and then a quick freeze made it impossible for this year’s crop to thrive. Experts agree that climate change will continue into the future, which means farmers must continue to take major risk during growing seasons.