By Clint Thompson
It is still early, but University of Georgia fruit disease specialist Phil Brannen is concerned about the extended warm temperatures and their impact on peach production.
“The thing I am concerned about is how warm it is. The chill hours associated with peaches right now, we just have not had cool enough weather yet to deal with that as far as the chill hours we need. Hopefully, it’s going to get colder. On peaches, that’s the primary concern,” Brannen said. “If we get chill hours that we need, we should be okay.”
Peaches need chill hours to mature. The required chill hours depend on the specific variety growers choose to plant. Some may require as little as 500 chill hours, while others may need as many 800. According to University of Georgia Extension, fruit trees require a certain number of hours below 45 degrees Fahrenheit to break down growth inhibitors in buds. This allows them to produce fruit in the spring.
Other than Thursday’s drop in temperatures, the weather has been unseasonably warm across the Southeast. It’s expected to get warmer next week. Temperatures, however, are expected to reach 80 degrees F across South Georgia on Wednesday, according to weather.com. Temperatures are not expected to drop well below 45 until the week of Dec. 12.
Brannen said it is a quiet time for disease management, though it should pick up at the first of 2023.
“They’ll start putting out bacterial spot copper applications in January. They’re definitely going to be getting out things like that to get rid of the inoculum there,” Brannen said.