Warm weather may cause problems for peaches - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Warm weather may cause problems for peaches

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January 4, 2005

Brooks County - Peach Farmer Irvin Lawson is watching the weather forecast closely, hoping temperatures will drop soon. "We'd like to see it get down in the 40's at least," said Lawson.

He has several varieties of peach plants, and each one requires a different number of chill hours. That's when temperatures drop below 45 degrees. "We'd like to get 800 hours, that way we know we can make them all," said Lawson.

So far, we've got 415 chill hours and less than two months left to get the rest. "The more chill hours you get, the better quality peach you have," said Lawson. "There's no such thing as too many."

The warm weather could cause big problems for early variety peaches. These already have enough chill hours and a few more weeks of high temperatures may cause them to bloom too early. "We don't want it to move just yet, we want it to be on into February," said Lawson.

Last summer's hurricanes could also put a dent in this year's peach crop. Lawson estimates the storms blew down about 400 of his trees. "The ground being saturated and the high winds, they just toppled over," said Lawson.

But this farmer hasn't lost faith. "I feel like there's more cold weather coming," said Lawson.

He's optimistic these temperatures are temporary and it will cool down in time for a plentiful harvest.

Lawson hopes to have all of his chill hours accumulated by the end of February. He'll start harvesting his peaches in April.

posted at 2:50 P.M. by ashley.harper@walb.com