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Warm weather threatens peaches

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January 12, 2005

Brooks County - The trees and brittle now, but come springtime, they'll be covered with sweet, juicy peaches. As for how much of the fruit will cover the trees, that's still up to mother nature. "We'll have peaches, but we don't know how many until we get enough chill hours," said Johnny Whiddon, Brooks County Extension Agent.

Peaches need a certain amount of chill hours, or temperature below 45 degrees, to make a good crop. So far, the fruit has only seen about 430 hours. "We're behind, we had about 650-675 hours at the end of January last year," said Whiddon.

Most of the early variety peaches have almost all the chill hours they need to bloom, but as for the late varieties, they're only halfway there. "The earlier peaches, most require 500-560, your later peaches go above 800 hours," said Whiddon.

Another threat posed by the warm weather is that it could cause the trees with enough chill hours to bloom prematurely. "If you get a long enough warm spell they will bloom earlier than they should and then you have the problem with the potential for a late season frost taking out the earlier peaches," said Whiddon.

Chill hours are usually counted until February 15th, so farmers have about five weeks left. Whiddon is staying optimistic and praying that mother nature will bring back the cold winter weather.

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