Fruit Tree Chilling Requirement

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As we transition out of winter and into spring every year, have you ever noticed that we have some fruit trees that are blooming way too early, while others remain dormant? This could be due to the tree’s chilling requirement.

Orange and Yellow Peaches with Green Leaves hanging from a Peach tree

Peach Tree

To break dormancy and grow properly in the spring, trees like peaches, nectarines, and plums must be exposed to temperatures in the 40°F range, for a required number of hours, during the dormant season. This period is referred to as the tree’s chilling requirement.

In North Carolina, varieties with chilling requirements, of at least 750 hours, are recommended to prevent trees from blossoming too early in the spring. Blossoming too early increases the risk of frost damage, which can lead to crop loss. This is a very important consideration also if you’re looking at purchasing one of these trees. If you’re looking at a catalog, or looking at a nursery center, make sure that those trees meet that minimum 750 hour recommendation. If you would like to learn more please give me a call at 704-283-3743 or email me at jamoore3@ncsu.edu