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Early warm spell doesn’t concern local peach farmer

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By Jenny Hartley

The recent stretch of warm weather has Lancaster County plants a little confused.

Van Wyck resident Janie Straight said daffodils are blooming where she lives.

And in Rich Hill, some of the peach trees at Don Gowan’s farm are budding.

Gowan, a longtime peach farmer, is accustomed to the ups and downs of growing the delectable, fuzzy fruit. He has about 25 acres of peaches, 1 acre of plums and about 2 acres of Asian pears.

Last year, Gowan said he had a good crop of peaches. The year before, when a hard Easter freeze hit Lancaster County, his entire crop was lost.

Gowan’s not overly concerned right now, although some of his peach trees are beginning to bud out, as are some of his plums.

Even if a hard freeze hits the area as it did in 2007, Gowan said his work won’t be done in the orchard. There is still pruning and fertilizing to do.

But the trees have built-in weather protection, so even if those early buds are killed off, the crop won’t be a total loss.

“All the buds don’t mature at the same time,” Gowan said.

He hopes it will turn colder for a little longer to stave off any further budding of the trees.

After about a week of spring-like temperatures in the 60s and 70s, it looks like there will be a chill on those peaches again, as colder weather moves into the area this weekend.

Today’s high will be 68, with mostly sunny skies.

But the cool down begins Saturday, with a high of 59 degrees and an 80 percent chance of showers.

Sunday’s high is also forecast to hit 59, with sunny skies.

A partly sunny President’s Day will be even cooler, with a high of 49.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151