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Southeastern Fruit & Vegetable Crops Fare Cold Weather Well

strawberries-196798_640Kevin Hardison, Marketing Specialist in the Horticultural Marketing Sector for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture is at the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Savannah this week:

“It’s a three day conference that runs Thursday to Saturday. It’s a great conference to find out more about the business of farming as well as production information about a variety of commodities like peaches, strawberries, grapes and other fruits and vegetables.”

Thursday’s agenda included the business side of farming says Hardison:

“They are staring out with business operating information. It includes the legal consequences as well as the financial information that you need to be successful. Some of that includes passing on your farm to the next generation and making it a sustainable operation.”

You can’t talk fruit and vegetable production without talking GAP and recently announced changes to the Food Safety Modernization Act. Hardison says that’s on the agenda today in Savannah:

“There is a whole section dedicated to food safety, GAP and the Food Safety Modernization Act. That information is being brought up to the growers in the next few days. At this point we are at a standstill and don’t know what will be changed, but we will be sharing what we do know.”

Regarding the recent record-cold temperatures, Hardison says growers he’s spoken to, for the most part came out okay:

“They took the preparations they needed to make sure the plants survived. Row covers were instrumental in keeping the wind and cold air off of the plants. There was some damage, the wind especially damaged some if the row covers were torn, but most plants still look very good.”

Cold temperatures weren’t the only peril, wind, especially on greens can be more damaging than cold. Hardison says growers are still assessing wind damage:

“Wind can be very damaging, more so than cold temperatures. I know that most were doing their best to protect their plants.”

NCDA Marketing Specialist, Kevin Hardison'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.