Chill Hour Accumulation: Alabama Peaches Still Behind

Jim Rogers Alabama, Peaches

Chill Hour

By Clint Thompson

Cooler temperatures in January have provided hope for peach producers yearning for chill hour accumulation. Though Alabama’s crop is still behind the total from last year, it still is progressing, says Edgar Vinson, assistant research professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Horticulture at Auburn University.

Edgar Vinson

“We’ve progressed some in the amount of chill. We are still a little bit behind, quite a bit behind where we were last year at this time by 100 chill hours. There is still some cold weather on tap so we can collect sufficient chilling,” Vinson said. “We may still end the season not quite where we need to be, but I really think we’ll be okay in terms of chilling.”

Peaches need chill hours to mature. The required chill hours depend on the peach variety.

According to the dynamic chill portion model, though, statistics show Alabama is a little ahead of where it was this time a year ago. Vinson said it is a little more accurate when looking at chilling with temperatures above 45 degrees Fahrenheit still logging chill accumulation.

The forecast for the rest of the month shows great potential for increased chilling. According to weather.com, low temperatures for Clanton, Alabama where Vinson is located are projected to be in the 20s or 30s through Jan. 31. High temperatures are expected to stay mostly in the 40s.

“We’ll certainly continue to log more chill hours and chill portions. I think the industry will be okay in terms of chill accumulation. There may be some deficiencies there in some of the varieties we grow that are above 850,” Vinson said.

He said some low chill peach varieties are starting to bloom in response to the warmer weather. But they likely will be destroyed during a later frost event.

Chill hour accumulations will stop around Feb. 15.