Cold snap impacts local fruit growers; some using heaters to keep buds warm

Apr 14, 2022, 10:08 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 1:23 pm

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — One group of people is watching this cold snap eat away at summer profits. Fruit growers are doing everything they can to save this season’s peaches, cherries and other fruits.

Some of the bigger fruit farmers have tools in place to help keep new buds warm. But with temperatures dropping to the high teens in places like Santaquin and Genola, it’s costing them thousands of dollars a night to potentially save the season’s harvest.

William McMullin’s orchard has been in the family for generations. So they are as prepared as they can be when a late-season cold snap hits — but it comes at a significant price.

“We hit a low of 18 (degrees) in our lowest spots,” McMullin says of this last week’s weather. It’s hard to save buds when temperatures drop that low.

“We have wind machines,” says McMullin. And they have propane heaters — about 250 — of them for the 500 acres at this orchard. Running those costs eight-to-ten thousand dollars a night. A price that’s worth it if it saves the crops.

“Every spring we’ll come and put these lines in and hook them up and they’ll stay here until about the fifteenth of May,” McMullin says of the heaters.

After generations of farming, McMullin says there’s only so much farmers can do.

“We have a saying, it’s always next year,” McMullin said. “You basically do all you can, and you let it go.”

McMullin added the way the rest of us can help is simple: Buy local.

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Cold snap impacts local fruit growers; some using heaters to keep buds warm