Minimizing And Managing Cold Injury In Peaches

Peach Freeze Damaged Flower

The first and most important thing that a grower can do to reduce the potential for cold damage is to choose a good site prior to planting the orchard. For fruit, this is generally high ground that allows for easy drainage of cold air off the site. Low spots or “frost pockets” should be avoided.

Second, the choice of the proper cultivars is critical. Cultivar choice should be based on sufficient cold hardiness for the region in which they will be grown as well as a suitable chilling hour requirement. In temperate areas, low-chill cultivars tend to bloom earlier in the spring than medium- and high-chill cultivars. As a result, they present a higher probability of being at a more advanced stage of flower development (making them more sensitive to cold) when springtime freeze events can occur.

Third, the timing of dormant pruning is important. Because dormant pruning is an invigorating process (it stimulates tree growth in the spring), it is best to delay dormant pruning as long as possible prior to bloom. This may not be practical, however, given the large acreages in many commercial farms and the time required to get all trees pruned effectively on time.

Fourth, orchard floor management can significantly influence springtime orchard temperature. Soil that is devoid of vegetation can absorb more heat during the daytime and liberate (give off) more heat in the nighttime than soil that is covered with vegetation (i.e., sod, weeds, etc.). Similarly, soil that is moist from irrigation or rainfall is also warmer at night than dry soil because of its capacity to absorb more heat during the day and subsequently liberate that heat at night. Under most circumstances, the coldest time of the day in the orchard is immediately before sunrise.

The most difficult freeze conditions to manage occur when it is very cold in combination with high wind speeds (advective freeze). During cold, still nights (radiational freeze), wind machines can be used to stir warm air above the orchard (inversion) back down into the orchard and raise the temperature, potentially averting freeze damage. Depending on the region of the country, some growers may supplement orchard heat by using orchard heaters, burning straw bales, etc.

The appearance of freeze damage differs depending on the timing. If the damage occurs in deep winter, dormant flower buds are killed. Typically, these buds will not swell and they will abscise (drop off) prematurely. Occasionally, however, these buds may swell, but the pistil inside is dead and they will probably abscise shortly thereafter. If damage occurs later, during the various stages of flower development, it is possible to have flowers with a dead pistil but the anthers are still viable. Usually, at these later stages of bloom, however, a brown pistil and withered and brown petals are obvious. Flowers damaged to this extent will abscise. Under most circumstances, flowers on a given fruiting shoot will mature from the apex (shoot tip end) to the base. This means that flowers typically open first at the tip end and last at the base end of a given shoot. If open blooms at the shoot tip are frozen, it is possible that unopened blooms near the base of the shoot may not be lost.

Potential For Late Freeze

Following pollination, once fruit have set and they are beginning to grow, cold damage can still occur. The “Easter Freeze of 2007” was one such occasion when temperatures in the low 20s occurred on three successive days in early April in the southeastern U.S. At this time, fruits were already 1 inch in diameter or larger in some cultivars. Damage to intact fruits was visible on the outside by skin cracking where the cracks would enlarge as the fruit expanded in diameter. When damaged fruits were cut along their longitudinal axis, varying levels of damage to inner tissue (seed and pit/endocarp) were noted. Generally, fruit that were severely frozen dropped off naturally. However, some fruits with damaged seeds remained on the tree and had a deformed growth, never attaining proper size, and being particularly susceptible to infection with brown rot fungus.

To see several photos of freeze damage and to learn more about temperatures that cause cold damage to peach flower buds, please visit my “Everything About Peaches” website and go to the “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)” section. Two cold damage FAQs appear in the “Commercial Production” section there.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Summer Foley gets crowned Miss Florida Citrus 2015 by 2004 winner Nikki Upthegrove Matthews and reigning Miss Florida Vicotria Cowen
Citrus
February 10, 2016
Who Will Be Crowned Miss Florida Citrus 2016?
Contestants invited to carry on a time-old industry tradition. Read More
field USDA
Disease Control
February 10, 2016
Broad-Spectrum Fungicide Approved For Specialty Crops In California
Rhyme controls powdery mildew, brown rot blossom blight, and leaf rusts. Read More
A selection of Andean dry beans, Phaseolus vulgaris, from the Andean bean diversity panel.

 

Photo by Stephen Ausmus.
Vegetables
February 10, 2016
Pulse Crops Top The List For Research
Scientists are making global contributions by participating in the Feed the Future Grain Legumes Project. Read More
The restoration of this secondary channel of the Napa River was made possible through the Rutherford Reach Restoration Project.
Grapes
February 10, 2016
Restoring The Napa River
The Napa River, which has helped create soil perfect for grape-growing in the Napa Valley, is in danger. Fortunately, conscientious Read More
Almond Board of Calif. logo
Nuts
February 10, 2016
Almond Board Working Toward Next-Generation Sustainability Solutions
New sustainability initiatives will bring the almond industry into the 22nd century. Read More
Photo Credit: David Eddy
Nuts
February 10, 2016
Incentives Available For Low-Emission Harvesters 
Almond and walnut growers who use lower-emission harvesting equipment may be eligible for financial incentives. Beginning this year, the USDA Read More
pile of potatoes
Potatoes
February 10, 2016
Potatoes Are More Than A Good Source Of Potassium
Researchers have been investigating the enhancement of oxidative qualities through breeding potato selections that are considerably higher in antioxidants than those currently available. Read More
Make sure your tank is free of cracks or fractures to avoid loss of product.
Photos credit: Fred Whitford, Purdue University
Equipment
February 10, 2016
Get Your Sprayer Ready For Spring
Cleaning equipment, checking for damages, and ensuring proper calibration should be standard procedure before the season begins. Read More
Bayer company logo
Crop Protection
February 10, 2016
Bayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Insecticide  
Company seeks to stop agency’s proposed cancellation of flubendiamide. Read More
Contour Farming
Vegetables
February 10, 2016
Vegetable Production: A Lesson In Sustainability
Thanks to the efforts of those producing vegetables, we have an abundance of healthy food options. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
February 10, 2016
Who Will Be Crowned Miss Florida Citrus …
Contestants invited to carry on a time-old industry tradition. Read More
Disease Control
February 10, 2016
Broad-Spectrum Fungicide Approved For Sp…
Rhyme controls powdery mildew, brown rot blossom blight, and leaf rusts. Read More
Vegetables
February 10, 2016
Pulse Crops Top The List For Research
Scientists are making global contributions by participating in the Feed the Future Grain Legumes Project. Read More
Grapes
February 10, 2016
Restoring The Napa River
The Napa River, which has helped create soil perfect for grape-growing in the Napa Valley, is in danger. Fortunately, conscientious Read More
Nuts
February 10, 2016
Almond Board Working Toward Next-Generat…
New sustainability initiatives will bring the almond industry into the 22nd century. Read More
Nuts
February 10, 2016
Incentives Available For Low-Emission Ha…
Almond and walnut growers who use lower-emission harvesting equipment may be eligible for financial incentives. Beginning this year, the USDA Read More
Potatoes
February 10, 2016
Potatoes Are More Than A Good Source Of …
Researchers have been investigating the enhancement of oxidative qualities through breeding potato selections that are considerably higher in antioxidants than those currently available. Read More
Equipment
February 10, 2016
Get Your Sprayer Ready For Spring
Cleaning equipment, checking for damages, and ensuring proper calibration should be standard procedure before the season begins. Read More
Crop Protection
February 10, 2016
Bayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Insecti…
Company seeks to stop agency’s proposed cancellation of flubendiamide. Read More
Vegetables
February 10, 2016
Vegetable Production: A Lesson In Sustai…
Thanks to the efforts of those producing vegetables, we have an abundance of healthy food options. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
February 9, 2016
University Of Florida Research Receives …
A big chunk of the federal funding will focus on growing the bacterium in a lab. Read More
Citrus
February 9, 2016
Revised Forecast Yields Small Victory Fo…
Updated USDA estimate holds serve again; hasn’t dipped since December. Read More
Apples & Pears
February 9, 2016
State Of The Fruit Industry 2016 [VIDEO]
According to an national poll of fruit growers, fruit industry suppliers, and researchers, the market is poised for growth in Read More
Crop Protection
February 9, 2016
Biopesticides And IPM
Dr. Surendra Dara, Strawberry and Vegetable Crops Advisor and Affiliated IPM Advisor with University of California Cooperative Extension, has long Read More
Fruits
February 8, 2016
Precision Fruit Growing, Business Manage…
American Fruit Grower magazine managing editor Christina Herrick posts her updates from the 59th annual gathering. Read More
Farm Marketing
February 8, 2016
Food Policy: If You Don’t Speak, O…
British Columbia's former ag minister spoke with attendees at NAFDMA's Convention about the political realities surrounding food policies. Read More
Farm Marketing
February 8, 2016
How British Columbia And U.S. Regs Are S…
Laws passed decades ago to protect small farms aren't keeping up with the realities of modern farmers and their marketing efforts. Restrictions can shut down hosting weddings, but offer incentives to open wineries. Read More
Farm Marketing
February 8, 2016
3 Tips On How Not To Lose Your Shirt Whe…
Chef and consultant Chuck Currie told NAFDMA Convention attendees the basic principles of what makes a farm market eatery a success or a flop. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]