Extension projects peachy outlook for Texas fruit crop

Texas peach growers remain hopeful about the crop that survived the freezing weather during late February and early March, Texas Cooperative Extension reports.

Larry A. Stein, Extension horticulturist in Uvalde, said the crop in southwest Texas is weak because it had quite a bit of freeze damage, while George L. Philley, Extension plant pathologist in Overton, reports a very good peach crop in east Texas.

“We're still optimistic that we're going to have fruit,” Stein said. “”Certain varieties are going to have peaches, no question about it, but it still remains to be seen how much we're going to have.”

Philley said the peach crop in east Texas is shaping up to be a good one. Yields, however, will be less than last year because of the freeze's impact. And some varieties may not do quite as well as they did last year, when the crop was excellent.

While growers are hoping for a third of the yields as compared to last year's crop, Stein said, the quality of that third should be outstanding.

“We're optimistic it might be stronger than 30 percent, but we're trying to be conservative,” he said. “We're hoping that we have 40 percent, so we're just going to wait and see.”

Stein said the weather in southwest Texas has been mostly dry, keeping diseases in check. However, rain would be appreciated.

“The heat is all right, and as long as we have irrigation water, we're in good shape,” he said.

Philley said east Texas has experienced average, warm weather conditions and light moisture.

No major diseases have been reported, he said, but that does not mean the crop is free of disease for the rest of the season. A minor, inconsequential amount of bacterial spot has been reported, which probably came after a rainfall, Philley said.

Only leaf spot symptoms have developed. Fruit can be infected under heavy disease pressure.

In east Texas, blooming began 10 days to two weeks later than normal due to cold weather, and minimal chilling hours in some areas. The late bloom delayed normal harvest dates. Peaches, depending on the variety, need from 300 to 1,000 hours of below 45-degree temperatures to break dormancy, Philley said.

Stein said southwest Texas will begin harvesting in late May and early June.

Randy Upshaw, district Extension director in Dallas, said peach trees are looking good with no early signs of insects.

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