Peaches Seeing an Early Bloom

Many crops are getting an early start in the southeast this year due to the warm winter, and an even warmer March. Mike Parker, Extension tree fruit specialist with NC State says that the area’s peach growers are sleeping with one eye open for a late freeze:

“It does bring back 2007, the April 7th freeze of 2007, no question about that. And some of our growers can frost protect with wind machines if the conditions are right. But, otherwise, we look at the long-range forecast and that’s the scary part, the long-range forecast looks good! But, we just don’t know. When do you ever really feel comfortable? Historically, the growers used to tell me that you had to get past Easter, didn’t matter when Easter was, end of March or end of April, you just had to get past Easter.”

As far as how far ahead the crop is running due to the weather, Parker says it’s not as much as you’d think:

“We’re probably running seven to 10 days ahead of normal, depending on where we’re at. Depends on varieties, historically we look to the Sandhills, to watch our peaches, that was the peach capitol of North Carolina. We look down there we have some trees that are in full bloom right now, we’ve got others that are still held back a little bit.”

If nothing else, the worry the past few weeks has been in the opposite direction, according to Parker…trees not getting enough chilling hours through the course of the mild winter:

“Part of the thing that we’re concerned about if we go south of North Carolina, is getting enough chilling, or enough cold temperatures, because peaches have to have a certain requirement of temperatures of around 40 to 45 degrees F, amd unless that’s been satisfied, the trees won’t bloom. So, in North Carolina many of our growers have been looking at planting peaches that require more as a chilling requirement, it’s worked well for us.”

But, an early bloom doesn’t necessarily mean early maturity:

“Let’s say we’re two weeks ahead on bloom, we may only be a week ahead on maturity. You know, we could see some a little early this year, barring any frost or freeze events before May 1st.”

But, all in all, Parker says that the crop looks promising:

“I guess we’re very optimistic, we’ve got a lot of peach trees going into the ground, we’re hoping and optimistic that we’ll see a bountiful peach crop across the state.”

NC State Extension tree fruit specialist, Mike Parker.


Image courtesy of is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.