Peach farmers welcome the cold - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Peach farmers welcome the cold

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January 19, 2007

Morven - Each spring and summer, thousands of people travel to Brooks County for one of Georgia's most famous products.

And Lawson's Peach Shed is a favorite destination.  "We ship a lot of peaches but we sell a lot of them through the retail part of the shed.  We've got peach ice cream and it's one of our busiest times of year," says Irvin Lawson, owner of Lawson Peach Shed.

But to produce the best peaches possible, they need between 600 to 650 chill hours each winter with temperatures below 45 degrees.  And this winter's unseasonably warm temperatures could pose problems for this year's crop.  "Yesterday, we hit  400, we went over 400, which really we are running about 150 hours behind."

In fact, it's been so warm, many trees have already started to bloom, and the next frost will kill off the open blossoms.

Now they are hoping this month's chilly weather will help the closed buds stay that way.  "As long as they stay closed all the way up to the end of February, first of March, I think we'll be okay on these," he adds.

But Lawson is optimistic they'll reach their chill hours goal by mid-February.  "If we get a few hours a day, it will accumulate a lot over a period of time. I think we'll get 650 maybe 700 hours before it's over with."

And this year's peaches will be sweeter than ever.