Peach tree crop withstands cold temperatures - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Peach tree crop withstands cold temperatures

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Robin Jedlicka

January 22, 2009

VALDOSTA, GA--

While most of us are hoping for warmer days, South Georgia's crop of peach trees actually relies on these cold temperatures.

"We've had plenty of chill hours to put these things to sleep, and they've gotten the rest they need," said Irvin Lawson, owner of Lawon Peaches in Brooks County.

While the cold is beneficial, one variety of tree was fooled by December's spring-like temperatures. The Florida Dawn peach tree shouldn't bloom until late February.  Lawson tells us, "They started blooming in January, and by January 10th, they were in full bloom."

Now that the temperatures have dropped below freezing, those blossoms are taking a hit. For the most part, the blooms that opened have been frozen out.  However, Lawson points out, "There are still a few blooms on some of these limbs that are buds. They have not opened up, and there's a good chance they may come through it ok."

Lawson is hoping the weather permits him to produce a full crop, which is typically over 2 million peaches.  Due to late freezes, it's been a couple of years since Lawson Peach's crop was full. Last year, they had just 35%. The year before that, the crop was only slightly better at 40%.

How are farmers feeling about this year? "I'm optomistic. I think we're going to have a good crop this year," says Lawson.

So long as old man winter doesn't have a surprise planned for early spring, the peaches should be ready for picking in April.