Shrimping season ends a little early
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Plummeting water temperatures are causing South Carolina officials to call an early end to the fall shrimping season.
The Post and Courier of Charleston reports Friday the fall season of commercial shrimping will end Monday night, nearly two weeks early.
Officials called it a protective move to save as many shrimp as possible to spawn in spring. Water temperatures hovering in the mid-40s can cause massive shrimp kills.
Mel Bell with the Department of Natural Resources says officials are "starting to get the heebie-jeebies."
In the winter of 2000-2001, prolonged water temperatures of about 46 degrees killed roughly 98 percent of the shrimp population, which took two seasons to recover.
Georgia’s shrimping season is scheduled to end on Jan. 18. Patrick Geer, an official with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Resources Division, says the department is looking at the possibility of ending it earlier but so far does not plan to do so.
Geer says only a few Georgia shrimpers are currently operating.
Freeze may help region fruit crops
NEW ORLEANS — The cold spell blanketing the Deep South was good news for some fruit growers, though the latest round of extreme weather has created worries for a new crop of farmers after the drought and drenching rains of 2009.
"Right now, we’re letting nature take care of itself," said Joe Mitcham Jr., whose 100 acres of peaches are the largest orchard in Louisiana. His peaches need 850 to 1,000 hours of temperatures below 45 degrees, and he expected to be well into 700 hours by next week.
The effects of the latest weather swing may be more ominous for growers of citrus, strawberries and other specialties — depending on how long the cold snap lasts and, particularly for fish farmers, how abruptly it warms back up. Alabama catfish producers, for example, could see greater than normal winter kill. Crawfish farmers also can’t harvest the burrowed-down critters until the waters warm
It’s been almost 14 years since the area has had such a long and biting cold snap, said National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Ricks. He expected temperatures to trend back toward more normal, above-freezing temperatures next week.