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'Punch to the gut' - Fruit crops lost at Columbia County orchard

Temperatures fell to 26 degrees at a section of OHF Orchards near Bloomsburg.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Pa. — Some farmers in Columbia County lost a lot of fruit during Thursday morning's freeze. Temperatures fell to 26 degrees at a section of OHF Orchards near Bloomsburg. 

OHF Orchards has eight locations around the Bloomsburg area. Some areas get colder than others when there is a chance of frost. This farm usually does well for the O'Hara family, but not last night.

"Last night, we had 26 degrees here, and it did not fare well on the peaches and strawberries. The apples are to be determined," Pat O'Hara said.

One section of the farm is about 11 acres, including two acres of peaches. They did not do well with the late-season freeze.

"That's showing some damage. It's probably going to shrivel up and fall off," O'Hara said.

O'Hara says the orchard will have enough peaches for its retail season, but this freeze will hurt its wholesale operations.

"Our early look, indication, we're thinking we lost about 30 to 40 percent of our overall yield," O'Hara said.

Another section of the orchard is located on Joe Yodock's farm. He manages Stonehouse Berry Patch, a pick-your-own strawberry field. He used irrigation on a section of his fields.

"I started at 8 p.m., and every hour on the hour, I came out, and I did a little video (about) what we were doing to check the temperature. At 2 a.m., we started irrigation," Joe Yodock said.

The majority of Yodock's strawberries survived because of irrigation. Even so, he says the freeze may delay the start of his pick-your-own strawberry season. The farmers say it's frustrating all around.

"You work all year; you want to supply your friends and family and your community. You have all these big plans, peach festivals, and apple festivals, and then this happens," O'Hara said. "It's just a punch to the gut."

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