Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Local News

April 27, 2013

Chilly reception

While the recent cooler weather may have been nice for you, some area growers are suffering

ATHENS — Growers of tender crops such as blueberries and peaches were hit with huge losses by unseasonable cold weather that penetrated deep into Texas this week.

Henderson County Extension Agent Rick Hirsch has been talking to fruit producers and getting devastating reports.

“The loss to blueberries is huge, maybe 50 to 60 percent of the crop,” Hirsch said.

According to the National Weather Service Cooperative Observer at Athens Municipal Airport, the overnight low was 73 degrees on April 18. The thermometer peaked at 86 that afternoon before a cold front dropped the April 19 morning low to 35 degrees. The following day the low was just above freezing at 34 degrees.

Ivan Vaseleniuck, owner Echo Springs Blueberry Farm near Brownsboro, said the cold destroyed more than 50 percent of his early berry crop. Other producers in the area sustained similar losses, he said.

“Everybody got hurt down here, right down to San Antonio,” Vaseleniuck said. “When you lose any more than 35 percent of your crop you’re losing money.”

This is only the second time in his 13 years in the area that he’s suffered losses to his crop.

“The first time, which was four years ago, I didn’t lose 20 percent,” Vaseleniuck said.

Because of the damage, Vaseleniuck has had to cut his staff from five employees to three.

“I’ve got to try to recoup by reducing expenses,” Vaseleniuck said. “I don’t know any other way.”

Vaseleniuck explained that he has three types of blueberries at Echo Springs. The first crop, Climax, is pretty well wiped out. The second, Brightwell, also has damage.

“But I can see good berries in there, too,” Vaseleniuck said.

“You’ve still got to go out and fertilize. You’ve still got to go out and put chemicals on. You’ve got to do what you can to reduce your losses,” he said. “I don’t know what my total losses will be until the end of the year.”

In addition to the fruits that were in bloom, farmers and homeowners had to re-plant a lot of tomatoes and truck crops such as watermelons, Hirsch said. Tommy Morse of Murchison reports that he lost 20 acres of watermelons he’d transplanted from a hothouse.

“We put them out on a Friday and by Monday they were gone,” Morse said. “I’ve been doing it 45 years and I’ve never had them killed this late.”

Morse said he’ll plant some melon seeds and see if they come up, but even if that’s successful he won’t be seeing melons until mid-July.

“Last year, by the fourth of July, I was through with melons,’ Morse said. “This year, I doubt if I’ll have any by the 15th of July.”

Robert Burns, Communication Specialist with the Texas Agrilife Extension regional office in Overton, said East Texas peach growers fared better than their Hill Country counterparts.

“We just didn’t get the hard freeze here like they did in Central Texas,” Burns said.


Text Only
Local News
  • 7-25 Sanders_Kendall.jpg Sanders suspended indefinitely

    Two University of Texas football players were arrested and charged Thursday with felony sexual assault after a female student said she was raped in a campus dorm room last month.
    Wide receivers Kendall Sanders, of Athens, and Montrel Meander were arrested and later released on personal recognizance bonds. According to an arrest affidavit, Sanders and Meander texted each other during earlier interviews with police to "get their story straight" and Sanders also faces a charge of improper photography tied to the alleged assault on June 21.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-25 tree down college st. 1.JPG Thunderstorms take their toll on counties

    A line of thunderstorms rolled through Henderson County on Wednesday, snapping tree branches and power lines along the way.
    The winds that accompanied the storm resulted in thousands of people in North Texas without electricity and roads broken by falling trees or debris.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Council considering Burton's severance package

    The Athens City Council, by a 3-to-2 vote, tabled a budget adjustment on Wednesday to fund a severance package for City Administrator Pam Burton who’s stepping down at the end of the year.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Eustace ISD approves tax rates

    The Eustace Independent School District Board of Trustees held its regular monthly meeting Tuesday in the Eustace High School Library.
    Several reports and agenda items were considered by the board, and all were passed or approved. Board Secretary Ashley McKee was absent.
    The board was presented with the superintendent's reports on revenue, expenditures, payroll and taxes.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif TxDOT signs at issue in county

    It turns out Texas counties will not be picking up the cost of Advance County Road signs as the Texas Department of Transportation had stated earlier this year.
    TxDOT informed Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders recently that it has reversed its decision to change its policy regarding maintenance of the signs installed to aid approaching traffic to identify an upcoming county road intersection.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Free meals for schools in Malakoff, Tool

    The Malakoff Independent School District has been approved to provide free breakfast and lunch for Malakoff Elementary, Tool Elementary and Malakoff Middle School.
    Those schools did meet or exceed the 40-percent requirement to participate in the program.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • • DSC_0162.JPG Ramps for handicapped

    Encino Landscaping is doing a necessary job for the Texas Department of Transportation Tyler District. All four corners of the block upon which the Henderson County Courthouse rests are being converted to better serve handicapped pedestrians.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Appearance and operation of Splash Pad upgraded

    The Splash Pad at Athens Kiwanis Park has been closed this week, as work is being done that will upgrade the appearance of the surroundings and operation of the facility.
    The pad is now well into its first full summer of operation, and has proven to be a popular spot for youngsters in the city.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif GBC official asked to resign

    Gun Barrel City resident Carroll Strickland asked Councilman Marty Goss “to do the right thing and resign.”
    Strickland spoke to the GBC council during the citizen's comment portion of the Tuesday evening’s council meeting. Strickland  accused Goss of trying to take over the GBC Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
    In a prepared statement, Strickland said,  “Marty is doing harm to the city's reputation. I am asking the mayor and the city council to do something about the situation.”

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Nutt says being part of task force has really paid off

    Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt reports that being a part of the Drug Enforcement Task Force in Tyler has paid off in a big way with the arrest of two major drug distributors.
    On May 13, following an investigation initiated in January by the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office investigators, Uleyses Roberts, 45, and Dijon Howard, 25, were arrested by a task force of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The men were charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo