QUEEN CREEK, Az - Things aren’t looking so peachy for Schnepf Farms and it's owner, Mark Schnepf.
Right now, Schnepf's nearly 5,000 peach trees spread across 50 acres should be dormant, but instead they’re full of life. Vibrant green leaves fill the trees as far as the eye can see.
“These leaves are just so green and healthy. We want them to look like this in the Spring. Want it to be shutting down in the fall,” said Schnepf.
But there’s another problem, many of the trees are starting to sprout peach blossoms, and some are even beginning to develop into peaches.
It’s something that Schnepf has never seen before in his 40 years of farming.
“To see this right now is really unique, and unusual in trees,” says Schnepf. “They’re not supposed to be blooming like this.”
Schnepf blames the unusually dry and hot temperatures we’ve been experiencing this fall as the culprit.
Forcing the trees to think it’s peak blooming season when they should really be shutting down.
“It’s just way to warm,” said Schnepf.
It’s also been 81 days since the valley saw any moisture. Forcing farmers to haul in extra water to help keep their crops alive.
To try and salvage the harvest, Schnepf and his workers are using clipping the branches to help force the trees to go dormant.
“We want to shape the tree for production purposes, so when you trim it like this it sends a shock into the tree,” he said.
So that by the time temperature does drop, the harvest can be saved.
“If we get a crop right now, we’ll lose the crop,” Schnepf added.
If that were to happen, it would put in jeopardy the farm’s largest crop, and it’s annual peach blossom viewing and peach picking event in April and May.
It could also have a negative impact on wedding season at the farm.
“It’s a premium to get married during peak blooming season because the back drops are so awesome,” said Schnepf.
Each year Schnepf Farm produces 100,000 to 150,000 pounds of peaches.
Right now the problem isn’t wide spread, but if it was, Schenpf said it would be a reminder of the crop failure he had in the early 2000’s.
"All we can do is hope the problem doesn’t get worse, and temperatures dip to get the trees to go to sleep," said Schnepf. “We’ll really have to look at this weather, and see if this weather changes.”