Peach farmers keep fingers crossed

Published 11:16 pm Monday, March 2, 2009

The blanket of up to four inches of snow that covered most of Chilton County Sunday should not have seriously hurt 2009’s anticipated peach crop but the low, sustained temperatures last night and today may.

Temperatures were expected to drop into the low 20s Monday night, setting up the possibility of damage for trees that are already 20 to 50 percent in bloom. “The low, sustained temperatures are much more threat to the crop than the snow we received in the area Sunday, Bobby Boozer of the Chilton Extension Research Center in Thorsby said.

“Temperatures in the 28-degree range can damage open blooms and there are people all over the county with orchards with open blooms,” Boozer said. He added the percentage of blooms killed could be high in those trees if the temperature remains low as forecast.

He said most peach growers are taking a wait and see attitude at this point in the growing cycle and did not anticipate growers using blowers or helicopters last night.

He said the forecast calls for temperatures to move out of the freezing range by this weekend which will help.

“We should be able to cut open peach buds by Wednesday to determine of Monday night’s freeze hurt this year’s crop and if so, how much,” Boozer said.