Is the warmer weather affecting CSRA peach crops?
Tuesday Feb. 11, 2019
News 12 at 6 O'Clock/ NBC at 7
RIDGE SPRING, SC (WRDW/WAGT) --There's nothing better than a local summertime peach. This time of year our peaches come from places like California or even other countries. As local farmers prepare for the season something that's out of their control, the weather.
"Peaches in the south they need some chill hours and that's a measurement of dormancy and so for our trees here on the ridge we need anywhere from 650 to 1,000 hours per year," farmer Jason Rodgers said.
With a warmer winter a few trees have already started to bloom, but Rodgers isn't too worried.
"We typically don't want to see the trees wake-up until the end of February, first of March," Rodgers said.
So what wakes a tree up?
"When the night time temperatures warm up, so does the soil and that's what tells the tree, 'Okay! It's time for me to wake up.'"
And the problem if it's too early?
"if we are blooming and we're below probably 26 or 27 degrees then that can cause damage to the blooms that are out there," Rodgers said.
And damaged blooms means fewer peaches during the summer, which brings back chilling memories for Rodgers said.
"In 2017 where we actually had a freeze after bloom, and we actually lost 85 percent of the crop and so the bloom was out there and the freeze actually killed those blooms."
For now everything look to be on track for a good harvest, but farmers will keep their eye on the sky and the chances for chilly temperatures. For chilly temperatures farmers up around Trenton are usually in the clear starting late march. And when it comes time to harvest, the average mature tree will hold three bushels of peaches which is about 156 pounds!