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Freeze Puts Central Illinois Fruit Crops In Jeopardy

A frozen young fruit is covered by snow Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, in Chicago.
Nam Y. Huh
A frozen young fruit is covered by snow Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, in Chicago.

Fruit farmers in Central Illinois are worried a freeze Tuesday night could destroy their crop.According to the National Weather Service, aFreeze Warning is in effect from 1 a.m. Wednesday to 9 a.m. Wednesday. Temperatures are expected to drop into the upper 20s. Rain and snow are also expected Tuesday.

Terra Brockman said apples, peaches and pears at her family farm in Eureka started to blossom earlier this spring because of warmer weather in March.

“There’s a good chance depending on how cold it gets and how long the cold lasts overnight and how many nights, we might not have any tree fruit,” Brockman said. “That is a sad thing.”

Brockman said some of the other fruits grown at the farm -- strawberries, blueberries and raspberries -- can likely be salvaged.

“Some of those will be OK. Some can be protected with row covers. There are some things we can do and not have a total loss even on the fruit side,” she said.

Brockman said most of their vegetable crops, including broccoli, kale and onions, are still stored in a hoophouse, so they don't expect any vegetable loss.

“We haven’t even thought about getting out warm-season stuff like tomatoes, peppers,” she said. “None of that is out of the greenhouse.”

Brockman said the rhubarb and chives they've planted can handle the cold. 

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.