South Carolina is the second largest peach grower in the US, just behind California. It is about an 85 million dollar industry annually. However, up to this point the South Carolina winter has been warmer than normal, which sometimes can affect the crop of peaches produced across the state.
Columbia Metropolitan Airport recording an average temperature of about 51 degrees. The typical monthly temperature is near 45 degrees.
Despite the warm winter, Kyle Tisdale, Director of the South Carolina Peach Council, tells News 19 that farmers are so far in a good place. "Even though it has been an abnormally warm winter, it's been about par for the past couple of years. It's been warm, warmer, but the trees are still getting what they need to put on good peaches.”
Peach trees need a period of chilling during the winter for a successful crop that summer. Trees need anywhere from 600 to 800 hours of chilling and farmers across the state are currently near that mark. As spring nears the weather begins to warm, the trees will start to bloom and enter a more critical period in their life cycle.
Any cold snaps once trees have begun to bloom can hurt the fruit development and cause major damage to peaches across the state. The peach crop has done well the past few years, but an abnormally warm winter in 2017 followed by a hard freeze in the spring caused major problems for the fruit set that year.