Publisher’s Introduction: Southeastern Orchardists Have Both Challenges and Opportunities

kirkland-sig-tpnIF YOU’RE a “glass is half full” kind of person (and you are in the agriculture industry, so you most likely are), then you might look at some of the challenges the industry faces and see opportunity. You’re not alone. With chill hours being an essential part of the peach cultivation process, there’s no doubt that the lack of accumulation of those chill hours will have definite impacts on the yield come harvest time — should that happen. But, fortunately for us, we have the power of research and technology in our corner. In this edition, you’ll read about how southeastern universities, industry researchers, growers, and government branches are working toward changing challenges into opportunities for the Southeastern peach industry. Here are some of the themes you’ll discover:

• Research funding is awarded to Clemson University for continued efforts on a viable organic peach growing method for Southeastern orchardists.

• An example of how diversifying with u-pick, a festival, and other agritourism offerings can put peaches in the limelight.

• Jeff Cook at the University of Georgia talks about what climatologists are saying and how research is under way to make trees produce around the chill hours.

• Florida orchardists have an opportunity with the Farm to School program.

• Plus, University of Florida researchers, growers, and allied professionals discuss the state of the industry and what efforts will help keep momentum going.

It’s a challenging time to be in the agriculture industry, but, in all honesty, when is it not? The same could even be said for opportunities, and it is those who focus on the latter that will emerge triumphant with creative solutions for continued industry growth.

If you are reading this edition for the first time, and you are a grower, you may subscribe to this publication for free. Just go to and complete the online subscription form. As you count the chill hours into the winter months, I wish you the best, and I look forward to a plentiful harvest.



Nelson Kirkland is publisher of The Peach News magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at