OCT 07, 2021 12:00 PM PDT

Saving the Georgia Peach from Climate Change

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

On average, Georgia, the Peach State, produces an estimated 130 million pounds of peaches each year--that’s a lot of delicious pies, cobblers, and more. What sets Georgia peaches apart from other varieties are their growing conditions; at least historically, the southern climate helps produce some of the sweetest peaches around. 

However, according to a recent article written in National Geographic, the growing conditions that produce the beloved Georgia peach are under threat by climate change, and measures must be taken immediately to mitigate loss of this state's treasure.

The problem for southern-grown peaches is the anticipated trend towards winters that are shorter and warmer than usual. Many peach varieties require a certain amount of time spent in cooler temperatures in the spring; this allows their buds to actually produce peaches in the summer. Essentially, peach trees force themselves into dormancy during these cold hours, allowing the tree to save energy for producing fruit when the time is right. While some peach varieties can produce fruit with less low-temperature hours, the more common varieties produced in Georgia, such as the Elberta peach, need 800 hours or more in order to produce fruit. 

With shorter, warmer winters, peach trees are getting less time in the cold; since 1980, the average number of cold hours for peaches has fallen by about half. And to make matters worse, spring frosts have remained consistent despite these seasonal changes, exposing peaches that bloom too early to deadly cold. 

Researchers are searching for ways to help the Georgia peach industry adapt to these changes, turning the actual DNA of peaches for answers.

Specifically, researchers are trying to understand the genetic instructions that tell a peach when an adequate number of cold hours have been met and when to emerge from dormancy when they detect the right warm weather. Understanding which genes control which activity could be key to finding, or creating, a peach variety that could both bloom effectively with less cold hours and survive spring frosts. Creating a new peach variety, however, could take time.

In the meantime, researchers are looking at other, short-term solutions to help current peach varieties grow in these changing environments. These approaches include, for example, using wind machines to help prevent frosts, though these approaches are costly and hard to do on a mass scale. 

Sources: National Geographic; UGA 

About the Author
  • Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
You May Also Like
OCT 21, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
In a First, a Working Pig Kidney was Tested in a Person
OCT 21, 2021
In a First, a Working Pig Kidney was Tested in a Person
There are many people out there waiting on transplant lists for organs to become available. Sadly, many of those people ...
OCT 27, 2021
Plants & Animals
Climate Change Is Making Freshwater Food Chains More Toxic
OCT 27, 2021
Climate Change Is Making Freshwater Food Chains More Toxic
Climate change is affecting our world in a range of ways. One key effect of climate change—rising temperatures&mda ...
OCT 29, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Hempcrete's Role in Energy Efficient Building Materials
OCT 29, 2021
Hempcrete's Role in Energy Efficient Building Materials
As more people explore the potential of hemp building materials, research studies are focusing on hempcrete performance ...
NOV 08, 2021
Cancer
Genetic Explanation for Low Cancer Incidence in Elephants
NOV 08, 2021
Genetic Explanation for Low Cancer Incidence in Elephants
Elephants possess two qualities that might make one expect they are at high risk of developing cancer; they are large an ...
NOV 19, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Space Taco: Nasa grows Hatch Green Chiles in space
NOV 19, 2021
Space Taco: Nasa grows Hatch Green Chiles in space
Now, incredibly, the famous pepper has been grown aboard the International Space Station!!!
NOV 21, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Crucial Developmental Genes Found to Still be Active in Adulthood
NOV 21, 2021
Crucial Developmental Genes Found to Still be Active in Adulthood
Hox genes play a critical role in mapping the development of multicellular organisms. This group of genes is also expres ...
Loading Comments...