Peach production meeting is next Thursday

Published 9:30 pm Thursday, January 15, 2009

Peach growers from across the state will converge here Thursday, Jan. 22 for the annual Chilton Area Peach Production Meeting. The meeting will be held at the Alabama Power Conference Center from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

Many experts from around the region will offer helpful, up-to-date information for commercial peach growers.

“Each year, Alabama peach growers face increasing challenges to maintain the profitability of their industry,” Regional Extension Agent Gary Gray said. “The Easter freeze of 2007 destroyed over 75 percent of the state’s crop, only to be followed by one of the worst droughts in history. With increasing production costs, diminishing farm labor supply, continuing cancellations of pesticides and ever-present weather-related risks, growers rely on research and extension for valuable production and marketing technology to keep their industry viable.”

Growers surveyed at the 2008 meeting reported an average 114-percent increase in yield (profitability) on their farm due to knowledge gained through the annual Chilton Area Peach Meeting.

“This increase would equate to a value over $5.3 million in revenues for Alabama peach growers in good crop years,” Gray said. “Together, the Alabama Experiment Station and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System are working to keep Alabama’s peach industry sustainable well into the 21st Century.”

The first two topics addressed at the meeting will allow producers to better understand their budgets and how to cut costs. Dave Lockwood of the University of Tennessee will discuss reevaluating soil testing procedures, and John Black of Mississippi State University will address budgets.

Other scheduled topics and speakers include:

Peach insect IPM update: Area Horticulturalist Bobby Boozer

Brown rot resistance to fungicide and quick test for determination of resistance in orchards: Jim Jacobi

Tergitol bloom thinning update and effect of BM 86 on peach size: Chilton Research and Extension Center Superintendent Jim Pitts

Effect of Retain on fruit size and quality of Loring peaches: Elina Coneva

Evaluation of targeted insecticide sprays against plum curculio in Alabama peaches: Clement Akotsen-Mensah

Chilton area value-added food processing facility initiative: Gray

Updates from the Alabama Department of Agriculture Commissioner’s Office, Farmers Market Authority Director Don Wambles, and Alabama Farmers Federation Horticulture Director Mac Higginbotham.

Anyone interested in attending must RSVP by Jan. 20. Supper will be served, so growers are asked to please call the Chilton County Extension office at 280-6268 to make their reservation.

The Chilton Area Peach Production Meeting is hosted by the Chilton County Extension Office and the Chilton Research and Extension Center and is sponsored by the Chilton County Farmers Federation, the Clanton Lions Club, Garrison Farm and Home Center, Helena Chemical, and the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.