Published on 03/05/01

* Special Agricultural Weather Statement *

Unseasonable cold weather has returned to Georgia. Temperatures across most of the state will be near or below freezing Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Peaches and other blooming crops are of particular concern.

Wednesday morning is expected to be the coldest, with temperatures in the 20s across most of the state. The big forecast problem is how long the wind will last Tuesday night. If the wind continues through Wednesday morning, then significant damage may be averted. If the wind dies Tuesday night, temperatures could fall well into the 20s and there could be significant damage to Georgia's peach crop.

Forecasters will have a better idea of what to expect Wednesday morning by late Tuesday. Check your National Weather Service forecast for local conditions and advisories.

Unseasonable warm weather has encouraged many plants to bloom seven to 14 days early. Early development has put these plants at risk of freeze damage. Producers and home gardeners may need to take precautions to protect plants Tuesday and especially Wednesday mornings.

David Emory Stooksbury is associate professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.