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Piedmont Peach Production-2004 Report

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This is a 2004 report from a NC Specialty Crops Program Project. It is posted for historical reference purposes.

PROJECT LEADER(S):   David Goforth

LOCATION: Tommy Barbee Farm

IMPACT

Three peach growers observed new peach cultivars for production in Piedmont area of North Carolina. Potentially several new growers could start growing peaches in this area once they evaluate these newer cultivars.

INTRODUCTION

In Cabarrus and nearby piedmont counties there is limited peach production despite a heavy direct market demand. The peach cultivars available in past years were very susceptible to frost. There are newer cultivars with increased chilling hours that are less susceptible to frost/freeze events during bloom. The commonly available Lovell rootstock used in the past showed stress and reduced growth due to heavy wet soils. In one observation during a recent rainy season, trees on the Halford rootstock outperformed trees on the Lovell rootstock. Demonstrating the newer cultivars will show farmers the current potential for peach production in piedmont soils in areas with limited climatic advantages. Comparing the rootstocks may help farmers make buying decisions.

METHODS

24 trees were planted alternating Halford and Lovell rootstocks. Cultivars included Challenger, Glactica, Intrepid, Contender and Carolina Gold. These were planted in red clay soil. The trees grew normally until July. During July there were several 3 inch rain events with about 8 inches of rain the week of July 26. The excessive rain drowned several trees. On August 9 a visual comparison of the planting was made to evaluate the survivability and quality of the trees.

RESULTS

Percentage of Dead plants
Lovell 44%
Halford 33%
Average score of living plants (1 to 5 with five being best)
Halford 4.5
Lovell 3

CONCLUSION

Observations in this demonstration matched a previous observation that Halford  is a preferred rootstock for heavy clay soils for survivability and growth the first year. Unfortunately, all the dead trees had to be  replaced with Lovell rootstock, so meaningful rootstock data can’t be collected in future years. Once these peaches start producing,  local farmers will be able to evaluate the various cultivars for reliability and quality.