Freeze poses little concern to fruit farmers

Tuesday, April 7, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 5:07 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 7, 2009

COLUMBIA — Winemaker Cory Bomgaars said the forecast for Monday night posed more threats to his lettuce plants than the grapes he oversees at Les Bourgeois Winery.

Unlike previous years, Bomgaars said the Rocheport vineyards aren’t in much danger from the temperatures expected to dip into the mid-20s.

“Our vines have been in a state of dormancy, so we’re actually not too concerned,” Bomgaars said.

Adam Puchta Winery owner Tim Puchta said weather is always an unpredictable factor for farmers like him..

Puchta said he follows multiple weather sources for forecasts near his winery, which is located near Hermann. 

“We’re always a little concerned, but there’s really nothing we can do about it,” Puchta said. “It’s one of those things you learn when you farm.”

Jeff Campbell, vice president of Peters Orchards and Market in the state’s apple belt near Waverly on the western side of the state, said the apple trees can handle a freeze as low as 24 degrees.

“There’s some concern, but we don’t think it’s going to be a disaster,” Campbell said.

He is focused more on the potential damage to the orchard’s peach crop if the temperatures fall that low. “We will lose some peaches. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” Campbell said Monday afternoon.

As of Monday afternoon, all three fruit producers were firm in their statements that this week’s freeze was no comparison to the devastating freeze in April 2007.

These Missouri fruit producers were quick to remember the two weeks of record-high temperatures, followed by a hard freeze, which was estimated to cause $400 million in losses to Missouri agriculture that year.

Campbell pointed out the freezing temperatures forecast Monday were about 10 degrees higher than temperature readings in 2007.

“It keeps you on your toes,” Puchta said. “Once you think you’ve got it figured out, something happens to make you realize you don’t."

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