Alabama Peach Trees in Better Position to Withstand Potential Freeze Event

Clint ThompsonAlabama, Peaches

By Clint Thompson

Sufficient chill hours have Alabama peach trees where they need to be during bloom season. One Extension agent believes they will help the trees survive any potential freeze event.

Photo submitted by David Lawrence/Shows peach trees blooming in central Alabama.

“We got a little bit better chill this year. There were some varieties that I think would have made it through the freeze last year, but they just didn’t have the chill that was required. It was kind of a double hit last year. This year we at least got the chill we needed,” said David Lawrence, regional Extension agent in central Alabama.

“The trees are really healthy. It is probably some of the best trees I’ve seen, health wise. There’s not a lot of dead wood. I haven’t seen a lot of disease. I think part of the reason is, they didn’t have a crop on them last year, so the trees had a chance to catch their breath, build up some reserves. Now we’re looking at some pretty healthy trees that will hopefully have a good crop this year.”

Edgar Vinson, assistant research professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Horticulture at Auburn University, said chill hours were well over 800, a significant improvement from the previous season.


Lawrence said peach trees are currently near full bloom. Early varieties started blooming more than two weeks ago. But growers now must play the waiting game. When will it drop below freezing again?

“I’m sure we’ll get cold again between now and the middle of April. Just got to see how cold we get,” Lawrence said. “Today’s the (March) 6 and last year (the freeze) was on the 15, so about 10 days from now is when that coldest snap hit us and really hurt us. I know everybody is thinking about that, and it’s in the back of their mind. This time last year we were sitting where we are now. Then we got bit by that cold snap.

“We’ve still got a long time, four or five weeks of potentially cold weather so we’re just sitting there waiting, looking at the long-range forecast. It looks okay right now, but that could change.”