It’s peach blossom time in Texas, and in Gillespie County, the leading commercial peach production county in the state, growers are reporting a heavy bloom this early spring, a sign that the peach harvest could be “very good” this year.

A check across the county indicates peach orchards are in full bloom, but that hasn’t stopped growers from checking trees for damage after temperatures dropped rapidly with a late winter push earlier this week. Most agree that the cold blast was short lived and caused only slight damage, not enough to raise concern.

“With a heavy bloom like we’re seeing, the cold helps to thin things out, and we would have to do that anyway, so things look pretty good so far,” reported Gillespie County peach producer Russ Studebaker.

He says of greater concern are peach trees getting their 700 to 800 chill hours each winter, a requirement for a successful crop. But once the trees start to bud and the saps starts flowing, cold weather can be a real threat.

Despite commercial peach production in states like California, Georgia and the Carolinas, many Texas growers and a growing number of in-state consumers consider the Texas peach one of the sweetest peaches money can buy. However, the temperamental nature of sweet and delicate fruit and its extensive sensitivity to controlling factors makes peach production a risky crop for many farmers.

 

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Jim Kamas, assistant professor and Extension fruit specialist for Gillespie County, says mid-30 degree temperatures aren’t a serious threat but warns that a frost could cause significant damage; the long range forecast into next week calls for a slight warming trend.

“There was some isolated minor injury in some low lying orchards this week [when temperatures dropped near or below the freezing mark]. We got by by the skin of our teeth one night,” Kamas said about a recent blast of cold weather. “The question is how cold it’s going to get tonight [and the rest of the early spring season]. The National Weather Service predicted we could see the coldest of the two nights [this week], but right now it’s warming a little more than they anticipated, so everyone is waiting to see what happens.”