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February Freeze: Event Left Mark on Alabama Peach Crop

Clint Thompson Alabama, Peaches, Top Posts

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File photo shows peach trees blooming.

An Alabama freeze event has left its mark on the state’s peach crop. But it’s not the Alabama freeze event you might be thinking of.

Edgar Vinson, assistant research professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Horticulture at Auburn University, believes the freezing temperatures experienced in February when the trees were dormant did more damage than the late-season freeze during Easter weekend when the trees were blooming.

“It’s not the crop they were expecting initially. We did get sufficient chill for most varieties. But the February freeze did do some damage. It did do some fairly significant damage, but we’re expecting a pretty decent crop,” Vinson said. “It didn’t get as cold (Easter weekend) as we had thought initially. I think it got just above freezing. The ambient temperatures got just above freezing. It did do some damage, but I don’t think it did the damage that it did back in February; the freeze that we had in February.

“If some growers had some wind machines to help protect, they would use them. The wind machines would help in those situations, whereas during the last freeze that occurred in February, it was windy, really cold temperatures; wind machines are not very useful in those cases. A lot of growers would not have even thought to use them because the crop was still so dormant. It was just unexpected that it would do the damage that it did.”

Vinson expects peach growers to begin harvesting this year’s crop at the end of May, first part of June.