Georgia Peach Outlook Uncertain

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Last year’s low-chill issues, combined with cold weather this year, could affect Georgia peach crops in 2018.

Phil Brannen, professor and Extension plant pathologist at the University of Georgia (UGA), gave an outlook for the peach season.

Issues from 2017 have the possibility to carry over into this season and affect the crops. Many growers did not follow all the way through with full spray programs in the 2017 season due to little or no fruit production. Brannen said in the orchards that were not sprayed or well maintained, carry-over inoculum will be prevalent to establish disease issues in 2018.

Brown rot and peach scab are two diseases he expects will carry over from the previous season. Tree stress from last year could also create problems this year for growers, including canker issues from fungi and bacteria.

Last year, a lack of chill hours brought concern. This year, growers are concerned about too many chill hours. The cold weather in the Southeast over the last couple of weeks has caused growers to fear cold damage to their crops.

Brannen said the cold weather in early 2018 is not expected to severely damage peach crops, as long as they entered total dormancy. However, bacterial canker could be an issue this season if there is cold damage. He said growers will not know the actual issues they face until spring.

“The bottom line is peach producers are going to have to be very aggressive in their spray programs this year in order to make sure they maintain a good quality peach,” Brannen concluded.

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