Winter has produced sufficient cold for peach trees

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2013

While the weather this winter has been unpredictable, it hasn’t taken its toll on Chilton County’s peach crops so far.

According to Chilton Research and Extension Center Director Jim Pitts, the number of chill hours accumulated by the peach trees is an improvement from 2012.

“Things look pretty good,” he said. “From what I can tell, the bloom dates are a week [later] than last year [around the first of March] .”

In order to produce a sufficient crop, peach trees must be exposed to cold weather, which keeps buds from opening too early. This in turn protects the buds from being damaged by being exposed to a potential late freeze.

The Extension measures the amount of hours peach trees spend under 45 degrees for one complete hour, or a chill hour, at two locations: one at the Extension office itself, and the other in the Fairview community.

Pitts said that there were 868 hours logged at the Extension office, and 776 at Fairview. He also said the weather should hold up in the next few weeks to support a healthy crop.

“The next three weeks look pretty good,” he said. “I think within the next week or so we’ll see a lot of blooms popping, and see a lot of color.”

While it does look like the crops should do well this year, Pitts stressed that anything can happen between now and harvest time.

“We’re not out of danger yet,” he said. “You can’t count them until they’re in the basket, but so far, so good.”