The forecast is for winter to return late this week. However, it doesn’t look extremely cold–just a shade below normal for the next two weeks. Fruit wise, the worry during the winter are the peach’s flower buds. Typically, a temperature below about -13F, will damage peach buds. However, this temperature must occur in the peach orchard and not in a low place where the cold can settle–such as near a frozen inland lake. Normally, growers plant peach orchards on high ground where there is good air drainage so most peach orchards come through freezes where thermometers in low spots report temperatures -15F and even below. As you’d expect we have planted our peach orchard on our high ground. It is pretty simple to figure a good peach location–all you need do is look around and if you have a real nice view you have found at least a fair peach site. By the way, Pickerel Lake is at an elevation of 760 feet above sea level while our farm is from 880 to 910 feet above sea level. It is interesting to note that under exactly the same weather conditions, that 140 feet greater elevation will cause the air temperature to be about 1F colder. Despite this, the high points at the farm are far better for peaches than next to the lake since in the winter, when the lake is frozen the cold air sinks and builds up and causes lighter winds which again makes it colder since there is no warmer air mixing in from above. (Because of the lighter winds it feels warmer to us but not to the peach trees because they don’t generate their own warmth like we do.) Of course, as I mentioned earlier, in the fall the lake keeps the surrounding area warmer and frosts are rare until mid to late October. At the farm, about a mile from the Chain-O-Lakes, the average frost date is around October 1. By the way, about 30 years ago I wrote an article on growing peaches in Michigan. It was published in Organic Gardening. I think it’s about time I write an updated article on peaches since I have learned a whole bunch about peaches. One of the things I might mention in the article is the apparent climate seems to have shifted to make growing peaches more profitable in Michigan — the last hard peach bud killing winter was nearly 20 years ago. If the trend continues, it might be profitable to plant peach orchards in certain areas of the UP might!