RUSTON, LA (KSLA) - Most plants have been loving the unseasonably warm weather this winter, but peach trees have not.
Every peach tree at Mitcham Farms in Ruston should be in full bloom. However, most of them show just a few buds.
"It was one of the warmest winters that I have ever seen," Mitcham Farms owner Joe Mitcham said.
"Most of the peaches, the variety that we have, require about 850 to about 1,000 hours of chill below 45 degrees. This year, we may get 300."
One chill hour has to be subtracted for each hour spent at or above 70 degrees.
So far this year, the temperature in Shreveport has hit 70 degrees 39 times.
So Mitcham's trees have been sitting in 70-degree heat a lot more than normal, and a ton of chill hours have been subtracted.
"If [the peach trees] don't get the required amount of chill hours, then a lot of times they will actually abort or shed off a lot of the fruit," said Mitcham. "Another characteristic is they won't size as well, and they will be misshapen. They won't be as nice around."
Last year, Mitcham said, his peach trees fell short of the required number of chill hours and he saw a big drop in his peach crop. "Last year, we only had 500 hours, which was short; and we only had 15 to 20 percent of a crop.
"I'm not even looking for 10 percent of the crop this year."
With the average low near 46 degrees, it's hard to imagine that the peach trees are going to catch up on their chill hours.
"It's a lost hope once they reach this stage where they are starting to bloom and the buds have already moved," Mitcham said. "Additional chill hours don't help. It slows down the bloom, which might benefit from not having a late freeze."
Even if he doesn't have a good crop, Mitcham said he still going to have plenty of peaches at his store at 1007 Woods Road.
He's just going to have to import some to meet customers' demands.