Freeze Severely Damages State’s Peach Crop
April 25, 2003 --- Growers across the state are still assessing
just how much damage the late March freeze did in their orchards. A
fruit horticulturist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System
says it’s tough to be very optimistic.
to be hopeful about the damage’s extent,” says Bobby Boozer, Extension
horticulturist at the Chilton Regional Research and
“But it looks like the March 31 freeze event may have taken as much as
70 percent of the peach crop.”
says several factors compounded the severity of the freeze event.
Most peach trees in
home to the majority of the state’s peach orchards, were past the
bloom stage. Peaches are more vulnerable to cold at this time because
of increased growth activity.
Boozer says varieties that had not completed bloom were badly damaged
as well. Buds on these trees had lost much of their cold hardiness,
thanks to the week of near 80-degree weather just prior to the freeze.
worries 2003 could approach the 1996 season. Several March freezes
severely damaged the state’s entire peach crop that year.
According to the Alabama Agricultural Statistics Service, about
500,000 pounds of peaches were harvested, grossing just over
$250,000. Now compare that to a good year like 2001. Two years ago,
growers harvested more than 22 million pounds of fruit, generating
more than $9 million.
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