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Chilling picks up for local orchards

The cold weather from this year has been helping the Chilton County peach trees in achieving their chill hours.

In order for peach trees to produce a good crop of peaches they must first “hibernate” by accumulating chill hours. Once a tree has enough chill hours, then they will begin waking up and getting ready to produce fruit.

“Some of the trees that we have are getting close to the total amount of chill hours that they need, so we are having to keep a close eye on the weather now because the next threat we have will be the trees blooming early,” said Bobby Boozer, horticulturist with the Chilton Research and Extension Center in Thorsby.

With two chill hour collection sites down, the Chilton Research and Extension Center has had to revert to other ways of calculating our chill hours. By Boozer’s calculations the local peach trees have received between 435 and 440 hours. That places this year almost 150-180 hours ahead of last year, making this year’s peach crop look a lot more promising than the past few turnouts have been.

The peach trees have until Feb. 15 to gather all of their chill hours and should begin blooming by mid to late March as the spring weather really starts to heat up.

“Right now things are looking really good as far as the trees getting the right amount of chill hours. We will just have to see how the rest of the season goes before we can know for sure,” Boozer said.