But even with less than hospitable weather conditions, projections for the peach crop still look favorable as orchards across the Hill Country are, for the most part, in “healthy condition.”

“Some are past the blooming stage, other orchards are lagging behind, but I’d say the majority of orchards are in full bloom right now,” Kamas reports.

But in spite of the optimism of most growers, weather concerns will continue to be “the topic around town” for two or three more weeks at least.

“You have to understand that on any peach tree there’s normally about 10,000 blooms, and growers are forced to thin that crop down to about 400 or 500 peaches to get a full crop [without weighing the tree branches down], so just because we lost some flowers from the cold doesn’t mean we’ve lost any varieties or necessarily had any reduction in yield. But we don’t want to lose any more.”

While seeing the peach trees in bloom is encouraging, those hoping for a peach will have to wait. The time from early bloom to harvest, of course, depends on the peach variety. Early maturing fruit will be ready for harvest as early as May, while sweeter varieties require more time before maturing and will begin to ripen in mid-to-late June through July, and into August for late maturing varieties.

According to a Texas AgriLife peach guide, peaches require a certain amount of winter chilling in order to break dormancy, bloom and grow normally in the spring. Numerous ways of calculating chilling have been devised, but the old standard method is to measure the number of hours of winter chilling a specific location receives at or below 45 degrees.

“Regal peaches, about a 700 hour chiller, will be ready for harvest around mid-May,” Kamas says, but the more popular varieties require longer to mature.

Sweeter varieties like Dixieland and Redglobe—500 and 850 hour varieties respectively—won’t be ripe until June-July if they received enough chilling weather over the winter months.

In addition to weather, Extension specialists warn growers that numerous insects and diseases damage peach trees and fruits in Texas. Major pests include San Jose scale, greater and lesser peach tree borers, plum curculio, peach twig borer, and catfacing insects.

In some cases, insect populations may be monitored for presence and injurious levels of infestation through trapping. Serious diseases are scab, brown rot, bacterial spot, post-oak root rot, and cotton root rot. Fewer insect and disease problems occur in Far West Texas, but they are sufficient to warrant control measures. Commercial and homeowner spray schedules can be obtained by contacting your County AgriLife Extension Office.

 

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