Never tried it myself, but my mom always told me she had a tree that she used christmas lights on! Not the newer LED ones - but the old ones that would get warm/hot. String them up over the whole tree, and if the tree blooms and is in risk of late frost turn the lights on and leave them on until the danger passes. This warms the tree's vicinity a few degrees and can potentially save the blossoms and future fruit.
Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
I'm trying something that may or may not be a workable solution for you. I planted mine in a spot that gets shade from distant trees until early spring. Due to that shade, the snow stays on the ground in that spot 2 weeks later than the rest of my orchard. I believe that the snow will keep the ground cold and maybe trick the peaches into flowering later.
Since you probably have them planted already, could you erect a shade structure (or conifers) to do the same thing that my trees do? Or a way to harvest snow and get it to pile up on the roots of your peaches (snow fence)? If you don't have snow, I'm not sure if the shade alone would help?
Snow shows up here a couple times a year. It is usually gone in a day or two. Although this year one blizzard of 3" left the stuff on the ground for a whole week! Gasp! The horror of it.
Last spring it had such quantity of beautiful blooms. Then we got a couple nights below 30. Very unusual. Bummer.
I can't plant any evergreens in my neighbors back yard. They put up with a lot of my weirdness a permie, but that may be pushing things a bit too far. My tree is sort of shaded by a couple giant oaks, without leaves at the important time of year though.
Do you have any local friends whose peaches survive better ? Not all peaches are the same .Could you top graft those onto your trees ?
Here in France I grew some peaches from stones and this year I will be having someone to show me how to graft a local type onto them so I will get some fruit .
Living in Anjou , France,
For the many not for the few
I've always thought that this is a situation where folks used smudge pots. I never have but there is a lot online about them. Maybe something other than oil could be burned? Here's a video...not sure it's the best one but they were burning wood in makeshift barrels under the trees that seemed better than having to buy the smudge pots and burn oil. It all looks polluting now that I watch it because the purpose is to make smoke I guess.
I tried covering my peach trees once with garden fleece before an expected freeze and decided they were on there own after that experience They can survive some cold if the fruit is not set yet (or maybe if just barely set?...I don't remember).
It seems like the clay would interfere with pollination if applied too early?
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I can't plant any evergreens in my neighbors back yard.
What about if you put up a temporary wood fence to the South and West of the peach to shade the ground around it. That may create a colder area that could do the same thing as that snow I speak of. It could just be put up for the 2 months prior to blooming. Extra mulch applied at the dead of "winter" could also hold in any cold that is in the ground.
Joylynn, These articles may be helpful. There is a difference between surround and the standard kaolin clay. Surround is run through a magnetic centrifuge to reduce the micron size of the clay particles. This is more effective for pests but I'm not sure if it improves bud protection.
See first article. I see reference to using Surround to delay bud break 2 to 4 days but I have not found much information beyond that. There is quite a bit of reference to covering and using water to protect buds.
commercial fruit farmers in this region use huge fans (sounds like a helicopter when it starts up at 3 am when the temperature drops into the danger zone. While that amount of electricity may not be possible, there may be some way of moving the cold air off the area....
Next idea: once traveling in neighboring Utah, I saw that a farmer had run his /her rainbird type sprinkler overnight. I'm not sure if there was any intent behind it, but the water had frozen all over everything, and I wondered if the heat given off by water turning from liquid to solid had been intended for some tender plants beneath the ice...
Next idea: There is an apple farm in a nearby region, they do plenty of unorthodox things, one of which is having planted apple trees on 18 inch centers (maybe 24 inch,it was a while back that I visited). They keep the trees pruned low. They left broad alleys between the rows, so that they could drive their machine between the rows. A late frost is not unusual, nor hale storms while the fruits are vulnerable. They had rigged up posts and wires along the rows of apple trees so that shade cloth could be drawn over the trees when storms or frost was coming. Perhaps there are some ideas that could be adapted to your use.... or factored into future plans for others.
I too have planted trees where a south fence retarded the ground thaw for a couple weeks, don't have any measurable results, but I did regularly get fruit (nectarines) from those trees, and the peach trees just further north were less reliable. And I've covered trees with row covers with some success but it was a lot of work
And lastly, pure conjecture: 1/seems like some kind of mass heater could be devised that would store and radiate and release heat through the night.
2/ could a bunch of chiskens or rabbits below the trees generate significant heat?
My problem was peach leaf curl which spreads when the trees are wet so I put a high tunnel over them to keep them dry and this also protects the blossoms. My climate is also considered 7b but I am at 47 degrees north so the day length timing is different.
One of my peaches is flowering. I concur with dennis. If you plant multiple peach varieties, some will always produce. It seems that most orchards have the same variety which is a feast/ famine situation. They either have peaches or they dont.
Here in northwest Indiana, we won't be protecting the peach buds this year because deep winter kill (temps around -17F) took care of them all. On years that aren't so brutally cold, I've heard that simply spraying the trees with water will help protect them from frost because as the water freezes it releases heat.
If you want to make your kaolin clay as great as the above mentioned product, Surround, just use a cement mixer bit on a drill with a reverse function.
I would just put my clay and water in a large bucket or barrel and mix one way, then the other. I would mix in one direction as long as it takes for the whole mass of water to come up to speed, then I would reverse, and mix until the mixture reverses direction and comes up to speed again. Then I would rinse and repeat about a half-dozen times.
I believe the agitation caused by mixing in the opposite direction of the swirling mixture will break up the particles as much as they are likely to, though I could be wrong.
I think the shading approach will work. I would be concerned that the efforts to keep the area cold at the beginning of the season could backfire and cause early frosts at the end of the season.
Also, care should be taken to channel cold air currents away from the area by texturing the land up grade and in the direction of prevailing winds to break buffetting and dessicating winds.
It is commonly held that if land forms and structures aren't placed in the path of cold air currents moving downhill, they will continue their downward path off your property, or at least away from your trees, such that you don't get frost pockets. This won't help if we're talking about a cold front that turns your whole property into a frost pocket, but I suppose that's what the other measures are for.
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