Appling County, Georgia
When South Georgia’s weather events led to the devastation of their blueberry crop in 2016 and 2017, Suzanne Courson and Chris White’s crop insurance policy helped see their operation through.
Chris grew up on a farm, and Suzanne’s late husband Timothy and she started farming with blueberries beginning in 2002. Their farms consist of 1,300 acres of cotton and peanuts, 300 acres of blueberries, and 30 acres of pecans. All of the crops are insured by AgSouth.
Climate change impacts blueberry growers
Blueberry farmers in South Georgia have been faced with serious challenges recently: warm weather in 2016 and catastrophic freeze in March 2017. Many blueberries need at least 500 “chilling hours” (45 degrees Fahrenheit) to bring them to their perfect sweetness, and 2016’s mild winter left them with an average of only 200 total chilling hours. The crop – the hard work – the long hours – all were gone for many farmers. Additionally, 2017 brought a late freeze that also destroyed many blueberry crops.
Important role of crop insurance
AgSouth Farm Credit members Suzanne Courson and Chris White of Appling County, Georgia, say they were fortunate to have purchased crop insurance from AgSouth’s insurance department on both occasions. When 2016’s unrelenting heat devastated their blueberry crops, as well as the freeze event in 2017, they had a check within ten days of finalizing their claim, and it was thanks to AgSouth crop insurance agent Sandra Meeks. Sandra has worked with Courson and White for the past 15 years.
“You work hard and you do your best,” says Courson, “but in the end it’s in God’s hands. That’s just farming. AgSouth’s crop insurance is our backup plan.”
“Our goal is to have a good crop – period.” says White, “But without AgSouth’s insurance coverage, we wouldn’t be standing here talking to you today. Even if we do everything right, nature doesn’t always cooperate. We can rest a little easier knowing that we’ll be covered in the event disaster strikes.”
This article originally ran in AgSouth Farm Credit's member publication, "Out in the Country."