Expected Freezing Temperatures In East Arkansas Could Damage Plants and Peach Crop

(East Arkansas) If you thought winter was over, think again.

A powerful storm system that swept through the region Sunday, will send temperatures into the mid-thirties Monday night and to freezing overnight Tuesday.

In east Arkansas, one popular Crittenden County produce and plant business is protecting its inventory of plants and at the same time wondering if it will have peaches to sell this season.

Colorful plants and lawn ornaments are left scattered at the Lehi Produce and Plant stand in Crittenden County after Sunday’s storm.

But the worst is far from over, as temperatures are expected to dip to the mid thirties overnight Monday and hit freezing Tuesday night.

So Monday morning, workers were hustling to get their entire inventory of plants out of harms way.

Tessa Worley, co-owner of Lehi Produce, said the job is overwhelming but has to be done.

“We have moved probably 750 plants this morning,” said Tessa Worley.

Worley said everything from eight foot tall palm trees, to Geraniums and Hibiscus bushes were moved into a covered shed to protect them from the elements.

“Anything below 37 degrees you have a chance of your plants freezing. Once that happens there’s just almost no return, if they freeze,” said Worley.

Monday’s relocation effort will save the Worley’s from losing ten to fifteen thousand dollars worth of plants.

The Worleys sell produce too.

And if the temperature hits freezing Tuesday night, peaches could be one important item missing from the shelves of Lehi Produce in a few months.

Edward Worley, owner of Lehi Produce, said this cold snap isn’t unusual, but it could be costly for peach growers.

“If we get a heavy frost on top of the trees when they bloom, it’ll knock the bloom off. And it will knock the quality of the peach out,” said Edward Worley.

Worley buys his peaches from Nichol’s Orchard in St. Francis County.

Seven-hundred peach trees are starting to bloom on Crowley’s Ridge, but a severe cold snap could mean disaster.

“And that will bring the peach market up, the price on the peaches up,” said Edward Worley.

Unlike Worleys’ plants, the peach trees can’t be moved to a warm shelter.

And the orchard’s owners can only wait out the weather.

“Really there ain’t nothing they can do. Just say their prayers and hope it doesn’t frost hard up there,” said Edward Worley.

The owner of Nichol’s Orchard didn’t want to talk on camera Monday, but said for us to check back with him Wednesday morning. By then he’ll know if this year’s peach crop will be a success or a loss.