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What’s Growing On: IFAS experimenting with the delicate rootstocks of peach trees

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 6:21 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -It’s peach harvesting season, and at the UF IFAS Plant Science Research and Education Unit, scientists are looking at peaches and the issues these trees face in a changing climate.

This particular branch of IFAS is looking at how to mitigate peach trees that either die of severe flooding events or don’t produce as many fruits in years where below-freezing temperatures damage the trees late in the season.

Their goal is to find rootstocks that can actually survive and adapt to flooding events. Ali Sarkosh, an assistant professor at the University of Florida, has been keeping a close eye on this research.

“If you remember in 2017, we had a hurricane. And a few of our peach growers in Central Florida lost a few hundred acres because the peach orchard went under flooding for a few days and then the root system actually fermented,” Ali Sarkosh, assistant professor at the university, explained, “That’s why we have been thinking this is very important in Florida if we want to have a sustainable peach production in this climate.”

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According to IFAS, the Southeast is responsible for 40% of U.S. peach acreage, which is why they’re hoping to come up with a solution to these issues.

As it is time to harvest the peaches from this spring season, Sarkosh said that some of the fruit goes out for purchase, but the rest of the peaches go to those in need.

“Anything leftover from our research, we’ll harvest them and donate them to the food bank in the Gainesville area,” Sarkosh said.

For more information on the research progress, click HERE.

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