Peaches sufficiently chilled, but now moisture is needed

SPRING IS ON THE WAY – Extension Agent Jim Kamas said growers are in “hurry up and prune” mode. Manuel Bodello, foreground, and Carlos Rodriguez, worked Monday at Marburger Orchards to get peach trees ready for rapid growth. – Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

By Ken Esten Cooke —

With around 1,200 chill hours for Hill Country peaches recorded, workers are furiously working to prune trees and ready them for spring growth.

If Mother Nature cooperates with more moisture and no late freezes, this year’s crop could be a good one, said Jim Kamas, Texas A&M Extension Agent for Gillespie County.

Peach growers count on “chill hours” or the time below 45 degrees to help the trees have a healthy winter dormancy and condition them for spring. Ideal winter days are between 35 and 40 and drizzly to add a bit of moisture, he said.

“We’re in an 800-hour zone, so we’ve got substantially more than we normally get,” Kamas said. “Now, there’s nothing holding this year’s crop back.

The lowest recorded temperature was 14.9 at the Gillespie County Airport on Jan. 7, he said. The area’s first freeze was recorded Nov. 13.

Kamas said farmers will be on track for at least “an average bloom.”

“Growers couldn’t ask for more,” he said.

This season’s chill hours surpass totals in the past eight growing seasons. Three of those years have been more than 1,000 chill hours, while only one, the 2012-2013 season, had fewer than 800 (798).

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