Farmers not loving warm February weather

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While many people are happy about this winter warm-up, farmers are on the opposite end of the spectrum. (WPVI)

While many people are happy about this winter warm-up, farmers are on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Instead of celebrating, they are worried about their livelihoods.

That's because the unseasonable temperatures could have major implications over the next few months.

At Terhune Orchards in Lawrenceville, workers are pruning peach trees to get ready for spring.

All the while, they're worried that fruit trees may be coaxed into blossoming too soon.

"If it's really hot and they bloom early, and then there's a frost, that could knock them out. Or, if it's super cold, they are frozen right on the tree," said Pam Mount.

That's what happened last April at Heilig Orchards in Mullica Hill. Farmer Carl Heilig lost half of his peach crop after warm weather teased out the blossoms. When a cold snap followed, it killed them and decimated his crop.

Mount says, at this point, she's not too worried about that happening again.

"The trees have not woken up yet. They're still dormant and they seem to be fine," she said.

Mount says peach, cherry and apple trees are most vulnerable this time of year. Her strawberries winter under a grow cover and seem to be doing well.

There are already lettuces and flowers growing in a greenhouse to stock the farm store.

To help monitor conditions on the 200 acres of orchards and fields, the farm has weather stations feeding information to a computer.

"Weather for a farmer is absolutely critical and knowing a little bit about it does remove some of the uncertainty," Mount said.

But, she acknowledges, Mother Nature calls the shots - and farmers everywhere are at her mercy.

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