Colder weather sweet for growing peaches

The cold weather could mean sweet success for peach growers here in Alabama. If everything stays on track, consumers and the economy could reap the benefits.

"Right now, it's just ideal."

Continuous cold weather below 45 degrees will help this peach orchard blossom into its full potential.

Jim Pitts, Director of Chilton Research & Extension Center, says "You can see on these buds, on these trees. They're asleep and tucked in tight."

And peach growers hope it will stay that way for at least another{}four weeks so the number one fruit crop in Alabama will be prosperous.

Pitts says, "Deciduous trees and particularly deciduous fruit trees have what's called a dormancy period and they need so many chill hours to be able to regenerate and get ready to go into the next Spring."

And there have been plenty of chill hours this Winter, more than normal. This can lead to a more concentrated harvest - a better situation for growers."They can get through an orchard in maybe 3 or 4 pickings, where the last couple of years it's taken 5 or 6."

Peaches will also be rounder.

Chilton County peach grower Henry Williams has been hoping for a winter like this. "We haven't really had enough cold weather to have a perfect crop for about 4 years now."

Even though the cold weather is a good thing now, farmers are hoping for warmer days by March because they don't want to lose a crop to a late freeze.

There's a lot at stake. Williams says, "It's just good for everybody when we can make a full crop, We do better as farmers and then the consumer has plenty of product and it's at a price they can afford."

Peaches also boost the local and state economy.

Pitts says, "It's a boost for public tourism when folks come through here and down the interstate buying peaches."

So, there's a silver lining in the midst of these very cold days.