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Peaches just fine after frigid cold

POSTED: January 8, 2014 12:30 a.m.

The frigid cold hasn’t damaged peaches and strawberries at Jaemor Farms, but it may have put a hurt on insects.

And for that, “I’m thanking God,” said Drew Echols, manager at Jaemor, 5340 Cornelia Highway, Alto.

“We have had some mild winters, and a lot of times it takes a cold winter to kill some of the bugs we have had to deal with,” he said.

The farm covered its strawberries, but they, along with peaches, can withstand temperatures dropping to a few degrees below zero, as both fruits are dormant.

“There could be a little bit of crown damage and it’ll take us a few days to be able to assess that, but it’s not a winter kill at all,” Echols said. “There’s probably not any damage.”

He said family members have been talking the past few days about how temperatures hit 10 degrees below zero in 1985 — when Echols was a youngster — and packed a terrible punch.

“The peaches didn’t even bloom that year,” Echols said. “They were killed in the bud sometime in January.”

Michael Wheeler, county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County, said cold weather is “good for the plant” in its dormant stage.

“It allows it to rest and get ready for the growing season,” he said. “A nice, solid dormant season is the way it operates — just like us. We need that eight hours of sleep every 24 hours to reboot.”

But it’s hard to say whether chilly dormant temperatures produce better fruit.

“There are other variables between now and harvest,” Wheeler said. “We could have a dry summer, and that would reduce production.”

Insects also can take bone-chilling cold — but only so much, he said.

“They have defense mechanisms that hold up during the winter, but when it gets cold enough, even those mechanisms are not very useful,” Wheeler said. “It is great weather to reduce some bug populations, which everybody is not going to complain about.”


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