The Brushy Mountain tree fruit crop made it through a spring freeze warning issued for early Saturday morning and a severe thunderstorm late Sunday night and early Monday morning without any damage.
Orchards on the Brushies still have a full crop of apples and the same for peaches, but the National Weather Service forecast calls for a Wednesday night low temperature of 33 degrees in Wilkes.
Other low temperatures predicted in Wilkes this week are 44 on Monday night, 39 on Tuesday night, 39 on Thursday night, 44 on Friday night and 42 on Saturday night. It typically is warmer on the Brushies this time of year.
Orchardist Gray Faw of the Brushy Mountain community said low temperatures there early Saturday morning were in the upper 30s, which wasn’t cold enough to cause damage.
Faw said his peach crop is about three weeks ahead of where it would normally be this time of year. Peach trees on the Brushies would normally still be blooming now, but Faw said his trees already have tiny peaches about the size of pencil erasers.
Faw said he’s not sure how vulnerable these peaches are to freeze damage because he’s never seen them this far along this early in the season.
Strong wind early Monday morning resulted in power outages on the Brushies. A chance of hail was mentioned in the forecast but none was reported in orchards.
Faw and orchardist Ty Lowe of the Pores Knob community said their apple crops are one week or less early this season, with just a few blossoms left on the trees.
Lowe said the temperature didn’t drop below 40 degrees in his orchards early Saturday morning. “Right now, everything looks good,” he added.
Lowe and Faw both said they’re seen more honeybees in their orchards than normal this year and weather conditions have been conducive for good pollination. Lowe normally pays a beekeeper to bring hives into his orchards but said he doesn’t think that will be necessary this year.
Last year, less than ideal weather conditions for pollination reduced the quantity of the apple crop on the Brushies.
Faw was one of the primary organizers of the inaugural Brushy Mountain Peach Festival on last Saturday in July last year.
He said organizers still aren’t sure if the festival will be held this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, but added that they expect to announce a decision by early June.