Peaches developing despite unusually warm December  

Published 3:05 pm Monday, January 3, 2022

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

T-shirts were the norm more than jackets these past several weeks, but the local peach crop has still been able to accumulate some chill hours.

Chill hours are counted when the temperature is below 45 degrees. Different varieties of peaches grown in Chilton County need a different number of hours to develop the best fruit.

The National Weather Service recorded the warmest December on record for both Birmingham and Montgomery in 2021, but colder weather has blown in with the new year.

With these colder, more winter like temperatures, there is plenty of time to make up the needed hours, Regional Extension Agent David Lawrence at the Chilton Regional Research and Extension Center said

“We are a little bit behind as far as where we would like to be, a little bit behind where we were last year,” Lawrence said. “We can make up a lot of hours with the temperatures that we’ve got coming up in the next week or two.”

Lawrence said chill hour accumulation will continue to be counted for six more weeks, so current numbers are not a big concern.

Right now, Chilton County peaches have accumulated 352 chill hours. Lawrence said this is compared to 438 chill hours at this time last year.

“Hopefully, we will have a pretty cool January help us to get back where we need to be,” Lawrence said.

Total chill hours for last year was a little more than 1,000.

“We try to plant trees between 650-850 (chill hours),” Lawrence said.

The Extension Center will host its annual Peach Production Meeting on Jan. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Jemison Municipal Complex, 14 Padgett Lane in Jemison. Speakers from Auburn and Georgia will be presenting. For more information, contact the Chilton Regional Research & Extension Center at 205-646-3610.