Question: What does the “chilling requirement” mean?

Answer: Some types of fruit crops have a built-in mechanism for measuring the length of the winter. They monitor the number of hours temperatures are between 32 and 45 degrees. That accumulated number of hours becomes the chilling period. Along the Red River it may be 1000 hours per winter, but in the Rio Grande Valley it may only be 200 hours, on average. Once the required number of hours for a specific variety has been met, it will begin to bloom with the next warm spell. That means if you have a 200-hour variety of peach along the Red River, it may try to bloom sometime in early January, while a 1000-hour variety would never bloom at all in the Valley. You have to match the chilling hour requirement with what you get in your area. Your county Extension office can give you the most precise help for your area. You’ll also find details online in the Texas A&M Horticulture website.

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