Chilton Research and
It’s fitting that the Chilton Research and Extension Center is located in the shadow of Clanton’s famous giant peach water tower just off of I-65, because at the CREC, peaches rule. When the center was established in 1944, its mission was to identify superior varieties and develop new management techniques that would help Chilton County’s peach producers maximize their profits. And that’s still its mission today. The CREC does work with other small fruits—most notably kiwifruit—but peaches have priority.
Current Research Updates
- Three of the top peach rootstock selections have been planted to test their response to armillaria root and crown rot, also known as oak root rot, a major cause of premature tree death in stone fruit orchards in the Southeast. The planting is entering its fifth year, which is usually when this problem begins to show up.
- A study is being initiated to manage oak root rot by planting trees on a berm and then removing all dirt around the tree crown two years later to expose the roots. This research will evaluate herbicides for controlling root suckers that occur when this practice is implemented.
- A limiting factor of growing golden kiwifruit is proper pollination. Since male kiwifruit flowers have no nectar, honeybees are useful for only a short period before moving on to another species. Artificial pollination is available but adds another expense to the production of the crop. Proper male selection is critical to match flowering with the female plants. Studies are being conducted to identify the optimum time for pollination to occur to allow better cultural practices to be developed.