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Warm winter might reduce yield

Southern US: Higher temperatures impact fruit production

The current temperatures in South Carolina might negatively impact fruit yield as crops need more cold weather. Fruit bushes and trees require “chilling hours”: a dormant period before the spring growth period. During this time, the plants’ growth regulating chemicals change. Compare it to humans sleeping. Plants need their rest too.

The best temperature for their dormant period is 7°C. Furthermore, temperatures rising above 21°F for four or more hours will offset any chilling that happened in the previous 24 to 36 hours.

Our normal winter average is 7°, just perfect for the varieties of peaches and blueberries that grow in South Carolina. This year we are averaging 10°, not considering the current record-breaking days.

Wltx.com reports on a lack of chill that could potentially delay leafing out and flowering, reduce fruit set and quality, and increase small, misshapen fruit. This is alarming, considering peaches have a $300 million impact in South Carolina.

Publication date: 2/23/2018


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