Chilton County peach farmers still optimistic after 2 cold nights

Chilton County peach farmers still optimistic after 2 cold nights
Chilton County produces more than 70 percent of the state’s peaches (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Chilton County peach growers are cautiously optimistic about a bumper crop this year (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Chilton County peach growers are cautiously optimistic about a bumper crop this year (Source: WSFA 12 News)

CHILTON CO., AL (WSFA) - If you're wondering what your peaches might look and taste like this summer, we're about to give you a clue. Chilton County peach growers found themselves facing two back-to-back nights of cold temperatures this week with Thursday night getting colder than they expected.

Todd Hayes is a second generation peach farmer seasoned enough to know what looks good.

"They're still okay right now," said Hayes pointing to a small bud on his farm. And Haynes knows what looks not so promising.

"They're kind of more vulnerable to a freeze," Hayes said pointing to an exposed part of the flower nipped by the cold.

Hayes has around 50 acres of peach trees and is feeling 'cautiously optimistic' of a bumper crop this year, a good feeling despite the two consecutive nights where temperatures got downright cold in Chilton County.

"Even a later variety, the early and mid varieties. They're all in good shape so far," he said.

At the Chilton County Extension farm office in Clanton, Dr. Edgar Vinson says if there's any damage from this week's cold snap, it should be minor if any at all. The potential problem is as we get closer to the harvest, cold is not something you want.

"Because we would be a little further along in development. We should be okay," he said.

The peach trees need a certain amount of cold weather during its dormancy stage but too much of a good thing or not enough of it can be devastating. Hayes found that out the hard way last year.

You may recall last winter we had warm winter, not good for peach growers.Hayes lost 2,500 peach trees and they're all piled up.

The ground has been plowed to make room for new trees that Hayes will soon plant. He lives in a county that produces more than 70 percent of the state's peaches, a crop that covers 1,500 acres statewide generating more than $6 million in sales.

Blount County is the second largest producer of peaches in Alabama, according to ALFA.

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