County’s chill hours have been ‘deficient’

Published 4:35 pm Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Accumulating chill hours is a vital part of producing a good peach crop, and as of Jan. 28, Chilton County had acquired roughly 639 chill hours.

The update was given during the Chilton Area Peach Production meeting Jan. 28 at the Jemison Municipal Complex.

About 50 local farmers attended the meeting, which was hosted by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

According to Edgar Vinson with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the chill hours in central Alabama have been “deficient.”

This does not hold true for the entire state, as the northern and southern regions of Alabama are expected to have been more adequate.

Chill hours began being counted at the start of October 2019.

However, it is not the final calculation this season, and chill hours will continue to be tracked in the coming weeks.

The goal for central Alabama is to have between 750 to 800 chill hours prior to Feb. 15.

What makes chill is the combination of temperature level and the duration in which it lasts.

According to Vinson, there are several ways to measure the amount of chill with the old 45 (Weinberger) model being the standard within the industry.

Although the old 45 is widely accepted, Vinson stated that the dynamic model provides the most accurate estimations for the central Alabama area.

The dynamic model measures chill in terms of portions of time instead of per hour and can provide a high level of accuracy when temperatures are warmer or colder than normal.

“Peach varieties can require varying chill hours for ideal production,” Vinson said.

Peaches that normally have an early harvest season, such as June Gold, have a lower chill hour requirement, while those with a later harvest season, such as Bounty, need more chill hours.

Farmers can stay up to date with the chill models and measurements by visiting https://ssl.acesag.auburn.edu/department/peaches/peachipm/ for a detailed look.