Governor Tours Peach Orchard Hard Hit by Freeze
Johnston, S.C. (WOLO) -- Governor Nikki Haley takes an up close and personal look at the extent of the damage to the state's biggest peach growing region and urges South Carolinians to help turn it around. At a distance, peach trees at the Yonce & Sons Farm in Johnston are picture perfect. But a closer look, as governor Nikki Haley saw in person Monday morning, shows just how much the trees and their peach farmers are coming up short. "It's very difficult for growers to stay in business," said peach farmer, Larry Yonce. The March 26 freeze brought with it kill temperatures, ranging between 25-27 degrees. The Ridge, an area in Johnston where the Yonce farm is located, suffered greatly. The ridge houses more than 13-acres of the iconic fruit, the majority of peach acreage for the whole state. The governor didn't realize how hard the Yonce's crop was hit until her peach orchard tour with State Department of Agriculture Commissioner, Hugh Weathers, and the Yonce family. "We try to grin and bear it. This year when you lose 30-40% of revenue, it's a very difficult financial situation," said Yonce. "They are desperately trying to make a living," said Haley. "They are stuck with trees with no peaches. That means a simple but important call to action to the people of South Carolina. One way you can help the state recoup the loss of peaches and revenue, according to the governor, is when you're shopping for the iconic fruit, ask specifically for South Carolina grown peaches." "If you don't, you know what you're doing?" said Haley. "You're buying California peaches. We are not in the business of helping ca peach growers, but South Carolina peach growers." During a normal harvest the Yonce packing plant is literally packed with hundreds of workers packaging up to 500,000 pounds of peaches in a day. Because of mother nature, though, it will stay quiet conveyor belts at a halt, boxes empty, for another six to eight weeks. "The good news is we got fruit by the end of June, July and august and it's the best of the season."