North Plains farm to stop growing peaches in wake of winter storms
The biting cold ice and snow from January and February have long since melted away, but their effects are still being felt by one of western Washington County's most well-known peach growers, who says he will no longer grow the fruit after this year.
Bob Jossy, owner of Jossy Farms, 31965 N.W. Beach Road near North Plains, announced this week his business would stop growing peaches after 90 percent of its trees were destroyed by the harsh winter storm and disease.
The Jossys have owned the farm since 1885 and grown peaches on the property for 40 years. The farm has amassed quite a following, with customers driving in from the Oregon Coast, Seattle and eastern Oregon every summer, Jossy said.
"We get them from all over," Jossy said.
But peaches are susceptible to a deadly disease known as bacterial canker. That, combined with the harsh winter, caused the Jossys to lose most of their peach trees this year.
"This is a very hard decision for me to make. I believe it is the right decision but I am having a hard time getting behind it," Jossy wrote online. "We will be open this summer with a limited supply of peaches and ample pears and apples."
Jossy said battling the tree disease has been tough. Sprays which once held back the disease became ineffective, and the cold, wet springs are bad for peaches, Jossy said.
"We're very concerned that planting peaches here might not be a great idea. They just won't grow unless we wait quite a few years, which we're not going to do. We're going to replant the peach property with hazelnuts."
Jossy said he isn't alone. The harsh weather and sickness have been felt across the region, but he said his farm weathered the worst of it.
"It could be we were just colder out here," he said.
But planting hazelnuts isn't a safe bet either, Jossy said. Filbert blight from the east coast is working its way across the country, and Jossy said his farm is in the process of replacing its hazelnut orchards.
"Peaches were supposed to carry us through the next five or six years until the hazelnuts were ready," he said. "The next few years are going to be a little tough until these hazelnuts get producing."