|La Feliciana awakens early|
Well, It's February second, and I hate to say it, but it appears that spring has sprung. We've had incredibly warm weather for the last couple of weeks. I was wondering the yard this afternoon and low and behold, to my horror, my peach trees have broken dormancy.
Why is this bad? Peach will lose all their flowers and/or fruit if there is a late season frost. Here in Austin we aren't out of the woods until about March 15th, so we've still got a month and a half to go. Yikes! Fingers are crossed.
Also, usually I wait until late February to prune. The break in dormancy means I need to do my pruning now, and it also means I missed my dormant anti fungal spray. I guess this year will be an experiment to see if I can get away without doing one. I usually prefer to avoid chemicals if possible.
|Junegold saying hello to spring|
Homegrown peaches are the most amazing thing in the world. No kidding. Texas is a great place to grow peaches. I firmly believe that everyone should have a peach tree in their yard. I have four.
When choosing a tree for your yard, make sure and pick one that is right for your area. http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/fruit-nut/files/2010/10/peaches.pdf is the place to go for good peach growing info if you live in Texas. They have a pretty comprehensive list of varieties along with chilling hours and ripening times. You'll need to figure out what chill zone you live in a choose a variety appropriately. Austin is in the 700 chill hour zone. If you get multiple trees, get them with staggered ripening times so that you have a longer harvest season. Ripening times are relative compared to the ripening time of the Elberta variety.
The four varieties that I planted are:
Junegold - 650 chill hours - 46 days before Elberta
Harvester - 750 chill hours - 26 days before Elberta
La Feliciana - 600 chill hours - 18 days before Elberta
Redskin - 750 chill hours - 2 days before Elberta
So in theory, my peaches ripen over a period of a month and a half (44 days to be exact) starting in June, although with the warm weather, and if there isn't a freeze, the harvest will probably start earlier. La Felicina and Junegold, my lower chill varieties, are the two that have broken dormancy, but the Harvester and Redskin look like they aren't too far behind.
Having a variety of trees is a good way of hedging your bets. If there's a frost before my late chilling trees break, they should be fine, even though I might lose the fruit from the low chill trees.
Last year was an early spring as well, but not this early. I had a good harvest. La Feliciana and Junegold gave the biggest and highest quality crops. Harvester and redskin haven't hit their stride yet. Maybe this year will be the year.