Weather can be one of the biggest challenges (or welcomed benefits!) to farming, particularly in Virginia where our seasons are diverse. This spring got off to a volatile start, which continues to cause impacts to spring, summer, and even fall crops. March began slightly warmer than usual and caused many early season crops to begin to bud and grow earlier than expected. Soon after our warm spell, we were hit with a major frost, causing hail in many areas and temperature drops of more than 50 degrees in less than 24 hours. Some of our high tunnel growers reported temperatures of around 80 degrees in their tunnels one day, and down to 20 degrees the next. As you can imagine, these drastic changes can be devastating to produce.
Tree fruit took the biggest hit from our late frost, as many early season peaches, cherries, plums, and blackberries were just starting to grow. Luckily, several of our growers had some crops planted on higher elevations in their fields, such as on a hillside, where the temperature did not drop as drastically and the crops are continuing to thrive. However, we still expect to see reduced volume and impacts to quality to these products when they come into season in just a few weeks.