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Frost-bitten peach orchards worry N.J. farmers

New Jersey peach farmers are assessing the damage caused by the recent below-freezing temperatures.(AP photo

New Jersey peach farmers are assessing the damage caused by the recent below-freezing temperatures.(AP photo

New Jersey peach farmers are assessing the damage caused by the recent below-freezing temperatures.

John Melick, who has 40 acres of peach orchards in Hunterdon County, said it may take a while to determine the level of harm.

“There will be varying degree of damage because not every not every peach variety is at the exact identical stage,” he said. “Some of them, the blossoms are still closed and have a little bit more cold hardiness. But, certainly, the ones that are wide open in full bloom are the most vulnerable.”

With all the time and effort he puts in throughout the year to produce a crop, Melick said it’ll be hard to take if there is widespread damage.

Salem County peach grower Santo Maccherone is hoping the damage to his 140-acre orchard isn’t too severe.

“I know it’s not good, but I can’t actually tell what I have left,” he said. “Maybe I can adjust a little what I have left to trim and what I thin, and you just go from there.”

Widespread damage could mean higher peach prices, he said.

“I would hope so, because if I picked less, I hope to get some compensation for having less,” he said.

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