Freezing temps could hurt Chilton County peach production

Farmer Lynn Harrison inspects his peach trees.
Farmer Lynn Harrison inspects his peach trees.(Source: WSFA)
Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 8:28 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2022 at 10:27 PM CST
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CHILTON COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - The pink blossoms at Harrison Fruit Farms will soon be Chilton County peaches – unless they get too cold this weekend.

“It’ll freeze the little peaches and kill them,” farmer Lynn Harrison said.

The man has been farming here since the 1980s. He specializes in all sorts of fruits, but his peaches reign supreme. With below freezing temperatures moving in, he explains his crops are at risk.

“If it gets as cold as what they say it’s going to, it’s going to freeze the buds and freeze the little peaches on the trees,” Harrison said.

Temperatures will be dipping down into the 20s. Harrison adds his peaches can withstand about 26 degrees, but not for long. This fluctuation could have lasting implications beyond just produce.

Peaches are a big business in a Chilton County. Up to 75% of Harrison’s sales are off the fruit alone, meaning if his – and other farmers’ – trees don’t produce, it could affect the local economy.

“That affects more than just us, it affects all the businesses in the county,” he explained.

Farmers spend their dollars on supplies like chemicals, fertilizers, fuel and more. Some are bracing for the weather, taking any preventive measures they can.

“Some people have wind machines in their orchards,” Harrison said. “It will keep frost off to a certain extent. You know, if we had overhead sprinklers over all the orchards, we could turn them on and freeze the trees and that would hold the temperature at 32 degrees.”

If the forecast remains the same, the farmer believes “there’s absolutely nothing we can do” but wait.

Harrison Fruit Farms typically begins harvesting around Mother’s Day into mid-August.

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