Peach trees not threatened by cold

Published 3:18 pm Monday, March 29, 2010

It’s that time of year when Chilton County’s peach tree blooms paint a picture worthy of any artist’s canvas.

Despite delays caused by cool weather during February and March, things are looking good for the peach crop, according to Area Horticulturalist Bobby Boozer.

The trees are currently in early petal fall to full-bloom stage, Boozer reported Monday.

“I’d say we’re probably seven days later reaching this point than in the last couple of years,” he said. “Because we stayed cool and consistently cool, it reduced the heat unit accumulation.”

The threat of a freeze is not likely in the first half of April, based on available forecasts. While some crop damage has occurred in April in years past, Boozer said the outlook for the next 15 days was promising.

“I don’t know what might be beyond the fifth (of April). The fear of frost freeze is certainly diminishing,” he said.

As long as temperatures remain above 29 degrees, the crop should endure any cold snaps without any problems, Boozer indicated. What growers are really trying to avoid is disease potentially spread by mild, wet conditions similar to those of last year. Bacterial spot was widespread in the 2009 crop.

This week, local growers are pruning, fertilizing and spraying as weather permits. The wind has made spraying difficult to some degree, Boozer noted.

The first peaches should be ready for harvest around May 25, with a little movement possibly occurring as early as May 19.

“It depends on, if we warm up, how warm we stay,” Boozer said.