90+% peach loss when things were looking good?

6 peach trees were old enough to fruit 4-5 years old. I have 8 others that all dropped earlier, but weren’t old enough to fruit anyway.
Belle 100% loss
Victoria 100% loss ( no surprise)
Surecrop 90% loss
White Lady 95% loss
Red Haven 95% loss
Contender 80+ % loss

First two weeks of April were very wet (flooding) and cooler. I estimate very little pollination the first half of bloom and then great pollination the second have with lots of flowers still in full bloom and tons of bees at work. Last two weeks have been abnormally hot and almost no rain. We had 3 days last week with frost, two lighter frosts down to 30-32 degrees and one hard frost in between down to 29. Trees were not covered. Literally all the 100’s of little tiny peaches looked great for 4-5 days after the cold, so I thought we made it through. But now have been dropping like mad during shuck split. They just weaken at the node attachment and fall off, most of them with what still looks like a good peach inside. Some are fully shucked and then drop. I cut a few open and can’t see anything major wrong. Trees too young? Frost/weather or a combo of it all? There is peach orchard about 15 minutes from me with very similar weather and varieties. They do nothing for frost/cold, but posted they have a full crop and will have to thin. Very bummed. We already lost almost all the pears. Hopefully the apples come through. Looking for insight.

1 Like

You might want to speak with the orchard manager to see if they treated for cold shock which some orchards do. It would be interested to know why yours shed while others around you succeeded. There are several possible differences to check out I can think of:

  1. May have treated using Bob Purvis method
  2. The amount of sun and wind exposure can be quite different between your property and the orchard. From data published by Purvis only a few degrees of harsh exposure can make a huge difference when you are at borderline temps.
    If you can report back what you find that could inform next years preparation. Best wishes to diagnose what the key factors may have been
    Kent, wa

I’ve had peaches that didn’t pollinate. Those ended up with lots of very small fruits that lacked a viable seed. Peach are wind pollinated. They don’t even need bee activity. And the weather probably wasn’t much different over the area in question.

Freeze damage is usually easy to see. But that’s the most likely difference between orchards 15 miles apart. If one orchard has good air drainage and the other doesn’t, then a freeze in the 29 area can be several degrees colder in one vs the other.

Orchards a quarter mile apart could be way different. The one on the hillside escapes. The one in the valley below is toast.

1 Like

There was a study comparing frost hardiness of various peach varieties that made the observation that moisture content was a predictor for frost vulnetability. The more water the fruits contained, the more they were damaged. This could be impacted by drainage, local precipitation, relative humidity preceeding the event, etc. I have anecdotal observations that support the hypothesis in my orchard.

1 Like

I plan to ask. They open this weekend with jams, jellies and such. Never heard of the Bob Purvis method. Have to check that out. Thanks!

1 Like

I figure that. My trees are on a slight rise, but flat. Their orchard is almost entirely hillside, with a small lake at the bottom.

1 Like

Hi Dennis,

Is this what you’re referring to? Thanks! https://www.organicfruitgrowers.org/resource-articles/frost-protection-for-apricots-and-other-stone-fruits

1 Like

Well I definitely had tons of water the week before the frost. My trees are planted on an 8" mound as the soil I have is heavy clay. But there was standing water on the outskirts of the trees for several days, a few days before the cold. If you have a link to that study, I’d love to read it.

1 Like

My younger varieties will hopefully have more tolerance to frost/freeze. Intrepid, Frost, PF24C, Veteran and another contender.

1 Like
1 Like

I have had this happen about every 3 out of 4 years. Feel for you. My lows that would result in total loss are more like 25.