Peach growers don't want crop blooming early

JOHNSTON, S.C. --- Though many area residents have welcomed warmer weather, peach growers in the Ridge region have been nervous.

 

If temperatures become too high too soon and are followed by another stretch of cold and freezing weather, the combination could prove devastating for their 2010 crops. Right now, though, things are just fine.

In the winter, peach growers closely monitor "chill hours," when the temperature is below 45 degrees. Peaches need 600 to 1,000 chill hours, depending on variety.

Sonny Yonce, of J.W. Yonce & Sons in Johnston, said those hours have already been reached for his trees.

Last week's temperatures in the 60s had some farmers concerned that peaches might start blooming too soon.

But one grower said low temperatures in the 30s make that unlikely.

"We've only had a few days (of warmer temperatures), and they need around two weeks of weather like that when it's getting warmer at night," said Jason Rodgers, of Titan Farms in Ridge Spring. "They might be thinking about (budding), but they'll sit there and wait."

Yonce said area growers will watch the weather and wait.

"It's all about the weather from here until March," he said. "Weather, weather, weather."