This season, as of February 19, the total number of freezing hours is 746, while the historical average is over 1,100.
Both peaches and blueberries, which are produced in abundance in the American South, depend on a certain number of cultivars known as “Cold hoursTo trigger the production of fruits in spring and summer in winter. For peaches, this means that a certain number hours below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. “overall, Cold hours As temperatures rise, temperatures are decreasing over much of the country,” Pam Knox, an agricultural climatologist at the University of Georgia, told me over the phone. “It’s hard to document exactly how much because there’s been no real research.” that shows.” However, he pointed me to a graph Cold hours In Peach County, Georgia, showing the historical average accumulation of both Cold hours winter season and in the last two winters. Total till February 19 this season Cold hours 746, compared to a historical average of over 1,100.
,Cold hours are one of those niche climate variables that are really only of interest to fruit growers,” Knox acknowledged. But they can really throw a wrench in the agricultural timetable. “Most farmers can avoid having more than one type of peach. will defend, some who respond less Cold hours and some that respond more Cold hours,” she said. “So for some peaches, 700 hours will suffice; For some other varieties they will need at least 1,000. More farmers are now leaning towards smaller,” he said, adding that at this point “we would hardly expect to match the historical average”.
But even then, a heat wave can spoil things, whether for peaches or Georgia’s more bountiful crop of blueberries. “If you use something that has little Cold hours and they get their Cold hours Quickly,” said Knox, “the plants are ready to go. We get really hot weather for a few days and they swell, bloom, and that makes them very vulnerable to late frosts,” which will kill the blooms. “Keep in mind,” she said, “most The last average day of frost for the year in Georgia is mid-March. Was born in April last year.