Peaches appear safe from late freeze

Published 2:50 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Young peaches are susceptible to late season freezes but appear to be in the clear this year.

Chilton County’s peach crop looks to have cleared a major hurdle this year.

A late season freeze is always a threat to the county’s peach growers, but though temperatures dipped down into the low 40s on Wednesday, the young peaches appear to be in the clear.

“We’re pretty much done with that,” said Meteorologist Michael Garrison with the National Weather Service center in Calera. “There’s nothing in the next seven days, and it’s getting pretty late in the year.”

Jim Pitts, superintendent of the Chilton County Research and Extension Center, said this year’s crop hasn’t suffered any damage from freezing temperatures, though hail damaged some peaches in orchards south of Highway 22 on March 26-27.

“Some of them were hit pretty hard, but it wasn’t widespread,” Pitts said. “From a county standpoint, we were able to make it through that pretty well.”

Growers now are thinning the trees—knocking off excess fruit so that what remains will grow as large as possible—and spraying them to prevent “peach scab,” a condition where lesions form on the fruit, making it less desirable or in some cases causing the skin of the fruit to crack and the fruit to rot.

Windy days haven’t helped with the spraying process, but Pitts said that’s merely an inconvenience compared to some of the problems growers seem to have dodged this season.

“Everything looks good,” he said.