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Agriculture Today

Most peaches, other fruits, probably not damaged by freeze

Most peaches, other fruits, probably not damaged by freeze
Most peach trees, such as this Red Baron variety, were not in full bloom during the latest bout of freezing weather and so were probably not damaged, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

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Robert Burns
March 19, 2014
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COLLEGE STATION -- The buds of many peach and other fruit trees were not open enough to be damaged by the latest cold front that stormed through Texas, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

Though he doesn’t expect wholesale damage, it’s still too early after the last bout of freezing weather to say for certain what the damage was, if any, said Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist, Uvalde.

“It got a lot colder than most people thought it was going to get,” Stein said. “Unfortunately, we did have trees starting to bloom. We had some peaches that were bloomed out, but most things were just starting to bloom, so we’re optimistic that we had enough buds that were tight enough that they will still develop and set a crop. Also, the bud set on most trees was excessive due to the low or no crop the year before, so some thinning was indeed needed.”

The problem is not the cold weather per se, but the warm periods in between, he said. If the weather stays cool, even though fruit trees like peaches, apricots, pears, and plums have enough cold hours to bloom, they won’t -- unless there are at least three to five days of spring-like warm weather.

What was interesting about this cold spell was that it seemed to travel more easterly through Texas, sparing some of the more southern fruit-growing areas like the strawberries around Poteet, Stein said.

“We kind of dodged the bullet in that regards,” he said.

Also, it’s good news that a lot of fruit and nut crops still have tight buds, such as blackberries, pecans, and apples, so they were not likely to be damaged by the cold spell, Stein said.

“If we get another one of these in seven to 10 days, it’s not going to be good,” he said. “But by the same token, if it stays cool from now to another freeze, then it’s going to slow down the development of buds and shoots, lessening the chance of damage.”

Robert Burns has nearly 30 years’ experience writing about agriculture and agricultural-related research. He writes about Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service activities at the Overton Center and centers in Stephenville and Temple.

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