Southeast peach farmers might be getting an answer to their prayers—a winter with cold weather.
There’s no denying that this year’s winter weather has been much different from the weather of the past two years. For Southeast peach farmers, that’s a good thing. While the freezing temperatures might not match everyone’s ideal weather for the Southeast’s winter season, those chilly temperatures equate to a better peach harvest for farmers south of the Mason-Dixon line. Find out why this year’s arctic blast is a blessing for Southeast peach farmers below.
Winter and Southeast Peach Farmers
An arctic blast brought freezing temperatures to many in the Southeast, seemingly arriving with the New Year. It even snowed in parts of Florida! This is vastly different in comparison to the mild—even considered warm at times—winters the Southeast has seen for the last two years.
While warm weather in the South may be good for tourism, it’s not good for Southeast peach farmers. Peach trees require a certain amount of cold weather—called “chill hours”—in order to grow optimally and set healthy, marketable fruit. Without adequate chill hours, peach trees just don’t produce enough peaches. According to a Growing Produce article, it’s estimated that Georgia lost about 80 percent of their peach crops. South Carolina lost about 90 percent of their peaches in 2017 because of the winter’s warm weather and a lack of chill hours.
The 2018 season is off to a decent start with the cold weather, according to an entry on the UGA Peach Blog by UGA-based County Agriculture Agent, Jeff Cook. According to Cook’s January 2nd post, he estimated an accumulation of about 500 chill hours for area peach farmers, or about 100 hours below average. He estimated that growers could expect 700 to 900 chill hours by February 1st, meaning most peach varieties would receive adequate chill hours for the first season in a few years. With the devastating losses of the 2016 and 2017 peach seasons, the cold is a welcome visitor for Southeast peach farmers.
AgAmerica Lending understands the ups and down of agriculture and is here to help support our nation’s farmers through good times and bad. We offer peach farm loans and many other unique financing options for today’s farmer. Contact us today to discuss your options with a knowledgeable team member.