Colder weather shouldn’t hurt peaches

Published 3:39 pm Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The threat of a frost Thursday morning across central Alabama shouldn’t pose too much of a danger for Chilton County’s peaches.

The forecast low in Clanton for Thursday is between 37-40 degrees. If temperatures stay that warm, the peaches will be just fine, said Jim Pitts, director of Auburn University’s Chilton Research and Extension Center.

“I don’t expect any fruit dying,” Pitts said.

Frost can cause fruit scarring, but even that will be unlikely to happen Thursday, according to Pitts.

“I just don’t think temperatures will drop that low,” he said.

Peach buds are vulnerable to late season cold snaps this time of year. However, it would take temperatures at 28 degrees or below for two hours or more to start killing fruit.

The last time Chilton County saw significant crop damage from a late freeze was 2007.

After this week’s cold snap, it won’t be long until the first peaches are harvested.

Peaches could be picked as early as later this month, but they will definitely arrive by the first part of May.

They are expected about 10 days earlier than normal, Pitts said.

Just because early season peaches are ahead of schedule doesn’t mean that popular and sweeter mid-season varieties will be too.

“The latter ones could very well settle in and be like they have been for the past 10 years,” Pitts said.

In the next few weeks, growers will also be busy thinning trees of smaller fruit, helping the best-looking peaches grow larger.