Low chill hours this year coupled with an unexpected spring freeze hit Georgia peach growers hard. In fact, Tom Beckman a USDA fruit and nut researcher told WMAZ-TV in Macon, GA, it’s one of the worst in 100 years.
“The closest comparison we have right now is, looking back at the historical records has to go back all the way to the 1930s,” he said.
Beckman also said Georgia peach growers do not grow low-chill varieties, and with the warmer winter, trees did not get enough chill hours needed.
‘We have never been so short. Hardly any of the commercial material that’s out at grower’s orchards was designed to deal with chill this low. We’ve never seen trees this low on chill before,” he said. “I haven’t, in my entire career, seen trees in some cases receive less than half the chill that they normally expect.”
Beckman, who works at the USDA-ARS’s Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, GA, estimates it’s been more than 100 years since the state has had a crop like this year’s. There will be fruit on trees, but just not as bountiful as in previous years.
“We have fruit. In fact, we’ll probably have fruit throughout the season, but it’s going to be a lot less than what we could consider normal. I’d say it will be well under a half a crop,” Beckman said.