Meeting brings good news, info about peaches

Conditions continue to be looking positive for this year’s peach crop following the annual Chilton Area Peach Production Meeting that was held on Jan. 30.

Farmers from around the county packed the Alabama Power conference center in Clanton to hear the good news.

“Keep your fingers crossed, but so far its been good,” said Josh Smitherman, a farmer attending the event.

According to regional extension agent Gary Gray, as of Jan. 22 the Chilton Research and Extension Center in Thorsby had logged 957 hours below 45 degrees. In the past 20 years, four years logged chill hour totals above 1,000 hours on Feb. 1.

The current count is drastically higher compared to 523 chill hours logged on that date last year.

No lack of chilling is expected this year, as we experience one of the coldest winters in the last two decades, Gray said. This necessary chilling will help peach and other fruit varieties to bloom and fruit with the much needed vigor that was lacking last year due to the warm winter of 2017.

Not only was the meeting an update on the status of the current crop, but also an informative opportunity to learn about the latest concepts and technology in the world of agriculture.

Catching up on all the new information that has been developed over the past year is something that Smitherman always looks forward to.

“It’s the latest and greatest techniques,” Smitherman said.

Smitherman grew up around farming. He started out at eight years old by helping his uncle, and it has been a part of his life ever since.

The meeting’s special guest was Guido Schnabel, a Clemson University extension plant pathologist, who spoke about some of the strategies to deal with diseases, such as peach scab and premature decline in peach trees.

Extension specialist Edgar Vinson talked about the history and the various models used over the years to measure chill hours.

Vinson mentioned the Extension Peach IPM website as a viable method to help keep track of the latest chill hour accumulations not only in the county, but also throughout the state. The website can be found at www.aces.edu/department/peaches/peachipm.

It was the last peach production meeting for Jim Pitts, who will retire from his position as Director of the Research Extension Center within the next year.

“My time’s up, but I thank you for yours,” Pitts said.

2018 Miss Peach Abigail Porter presented a check for $600 to Gray and the peach farmers. It is an annual donation from the Clanton Lions Club.

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