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Peach production relies on winter weather

Peaches play a huge role in agriculture industry in Alabama.
Peaches play a huge role in agriculture industry in Alabama.(WBRC)
Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 8:10 PM CST
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CLANTON, Ala. (WBRC) - Chilton County is known all across the country for their peaches. Many only think of peaches when they devour them on a hot summer day. However, insiders are stressing that right now is one of the most critical times of the year for peach production.

Just walking around the peach farm you would get the sense that nothing is going on. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Peach trees need to spend a good bit of time in the cold before blossoming in the spring.

“Most of the varieties of peaches that we have range between 900 and 1,000 chill hours,” said Durbin Farms Market Manager Colby Jones.

If the trees don’t get enough “chill” hours, the trees won’t produce as many peaches. So the cold weather will be welcome in Chilton County for the next couple of months.

“It’s typically after Easter when we have to start to worry about the frigid temps. Up until then we are kind of excited and joyous when we do get cold weather. Especially after last week when we had on shorts and flip flops,” said Jones.

While you may prefer flip flop weather, peach production is huge for Alabama’s economy.

“It’s not just the workers that you have here in the fields, it’s the farmers, the produce markets, the drivers, the truck drivers, all of them are dependent on what agriculture does in our state and our county as well. It’s a wide ranging aspect of how something so small can make such a huge impact on everybody,” said Jones.

Different kinds of peach trees require a different amount of chilled hours, but no matter what the recommended time in the cold without it, peach production wouldn’t be the same in Alabama. Insiders say they are behind last year’s pace for “chilled hours,” but there is plenty of time to catch up.

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