Rough winter spells trouble for peaches

CALHOUN COUNTY, Ill. (KSDK) - It may be almost summertime, but it was a devastating winter for some southern Illinois farmers.

Those who grow peaches, in some cases, lost their entire crop.

There are more than 10 orchards in Calhoun County, an area known for their peaches, and at least half of them have lost their whole crop.

What does that mean for us? Fewer road side stands this summer and more expensive peaches.

"We might have enough to make a cobbler here and there but that's about it, we won't be able to sell any peaches on the market this year," says peach farmer and Calhoun County Sheriff Bill Heffington.

He says it was the bitterly cold temperatures that damaged the crops.

But 10 minutes down the road, Roy Jacobs says his peaches faired pretty well, thanks to the hill his orchard sits on.

"That one morning I think it got down to 20 below and right here I think we only had 16 below so that was a big difference,"Jacobs said.

Because of those four degrees, he still has 50 percent of his peaches.

These farmers say the loss will affect the county's economy with locals and tourists.

"You are just not going to have as many people coming to the county buying produce," Heffington said.

"These orchards hire a lot of high school kids and that's probably going to hurt," said Jacobs, who's going to have to cut his summer jobs from 10 to five this year.

Heffington, who has crop insurance, says the last time he lost his whole peach crop was in 2007.

He's had six busy summers since, so this summer he's taking the hint from Mother Nature.

"Well it's kind of like a summer semi off, I figure on doing a little more fishing this summer, relaxing," says a laughing Heffington.

The farmers think the earliest we will see Calhoun County peaches at farmer's markets is mid-to-late July.

Jacobs farm will be selling their peaches at farmers markets in St. Charles and Lake St. Louis.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment