Peach farmers dealing with rough year for crop after warm year

CHILTON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — It is shaping up to be a tough year for peach farmers across the Southeast, including Alabama.

In Chilton County, many late-season varieties lacked the required cold weather, or dormant hours, they need to become viable. This lack of dormant hours means that although there are Alabama peaches in stores and stands now, they could go fast.

“We’ll honestly probably be out of most of the peaches by early June, I’d imagine,” said Derek Gray, co-owner at Peach Park.

Gray says they are freezing fruits they’ll use for ice cream later in the season, especially after the peaches are gone. They’re depending on a lot of beach traffic this summer, on both sides of I-65.

“That’s where we get most of our traffic,” Gray said.

Despite a less-than-bumper crop, the normal events surrounding peach season in the county will continue, from the Peach Festival to the annual Peach pageant. Julia Culpepper with the Clanton Lions Club says they depend on the community’s support for their non-profit organization, and as usual, they think a lot of it will come from travelers.

“It’s very important, because it gives, if they’re out of town, they go back and tell their neighbors, and it promotes the county,” Culpepper said.

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