WUFT News

Recent temperatures affect peach and other fruit harvest this winter

By and on March 15th, 2013

The fluctuating temperatures this winter have made it hard for local farmers to harvest peaches and other fruit.

A frost warning for Thursday night worried many local growers, some of whom were reminded of deadly freezes in February. In mid-February there were temperatures reaching below 20 degrees and killed many crops in the process.

Chestnut Hill Tree Farm owner Robert Wallace said some local growers couldn’t harvest any fruits at all last year.

Luckily, Thursday night’s temperatures didn’t get low enough to hurt the fruit. Typically, fruit is damaged after about enduring temperatures below 28 degrees for about four or five hours.

Up-and-down temperature patterns are especially dangerous for crops like peaches and blueberries, which rely on a period of chilling followed by warmth to produce good fruits, Wallace said. The last few cold weeks can really damage the plants.

“It’s sometimes like playing roulette if you get a really bad combination of weather,” he said.

The cold weather around Thanksgiving and Christmas, like Gainesville experienced this year, can fulfill a peach tree’s dormancy requirement, he said. But a mild January can trick the plants into thinking spring has started. The plants will then begin to flower and even produce fruit.

The peach industry is still comparatively small, and it is unclear so far how the recent years of extreme weather will affect that long term. But Wallace said that as long as there aren’t big losses to weather, north central Florida can grow fresh fruit all year long.

University of Florida stone fruit expert Mercy Olmstead said freezes in the last month have hurt green bean, sweet corn and sugarcane production. The wild fluctuation week by week and the extremely low temperatures have made Gainesville as chilly as cities five hours north.

The risks to the peach industry are dangeours for all kinds of growers, including some citrus growers who have been trying to diversify their production in the wake of citrus disease. Other farmers are following Chestnut Hill Tree Farm’s lead to keep the state’s production as high as it’s been in the past.

Olmstead said proactive measures helped protect trees from the danger of frost.

The best method of frost protection for peach trees is ice. Olmstead said the process of overhead irrigation can keep the fruit from freezing.

She said she hopes the weather challenges didn’t hurt Floridians’ chances to get fresh Florida peaches.

The Florida peach season begins in the next two weeks and should last until early May.

Audreyanna Loguerre wrote this story online.


This entry was posted in Environment and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Environment

Attendance at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park increased by more than 100,000 visitors in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

State Park Commercialization Plan Contributor Appointed DEP Secretary

State parks were identified by former interim secretary of the DEP Jon Steverson in a draft strategic plan as test cases for allowing commercial businesses to graze cattle, timber and hunt in the parks. Gov. Rick Scott appointed Steverson as DEP secretary today.


Billy McDaniel (left), Tommy Hines (right) catch a gag grouper at Cedar Key, trolling in 50 feet of water.

FWC Surveys Local Fishermen About Gulf Species

The FWC is conducting surveys to discover trends in species of fish being caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Local fishermen agree that monitoring the fish is important, but some question the method of data collection.


Gina Hall, the current president of the Gainesville Alachua County Association of Realtors, said that residential sales in the Stephen Foster neighborhood have been improving. Local realtor Darlene Pifalo said the home pictured above sold in an average amount time on the market after the price was lowered slightly.

Stephen Foster Residents Hope For Neighborhood Revival

The Cabot-Koppers wood treatment plant became an EPA Superfund site in 1983 after dioxins contaminated the soil and underground aquifer. Now that cleanup of residential property was completed in November, the residents look toward the future.


Frosted elfin butterfly

Butterfly Study Calls Attention To Prescribed Burning Practices

A recent study by a University of Florida graduate researches the effects of prescribed fires on the elfin frosted butterfly. The species requires fire to survive, but is also prone to damage from excessive burning.


Containerized longleaf pine seedlings are removed from a growing tray. They are then counted and placed in a wax coated cardboard shipping box.

Longleaf Pine Restoration Helps Environment And Economy

Longleaf pine is being reintroduced into the United States ecosystem. If the restoration plan is successful, this type of pine would benefit the environment and the economy.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments