Area peach lovers can rest easy knowing that this week's cold and freezing temperatures did no damage to the local peach crop that will come into season this May. During the winter months, peach trees are completely dormant and the buds are tightly shut and resistant to the cold temperatures. Only when temperatures dip below about zero degrees, an unlikelihood in South Carolina, does the freeze affect the peach crop's buds during this time of year. "When the trees are dormant, it doesn't really hurt us and it doesn't really help us," said Jason Rodgers, farm manager at Titan Farm in Ridge Spring. "If it did anything, it is a plus." Because the temperatures were not so low this week and the weather caused no physical damage to the tree limbs, the snow did little more than put water into the land, adding moisture to the trees' roots, Rodgers said. In fact, the local crop has already achieved the number of "chilling hours" - accumulation of hours that occur during the winter time below 45 degrees - that most peach trees require to overcome dormancy at the end of the winter, according to Clemson University associate professor of pomology and state peach specialist Dr. Desmond Layne. The number of chilling hours needed are between 800 and 1,000, Layne said. "I'd say most of our peach growers are probably pretty happy about the weather we've had," said Layne. While the cold temperatures this time of year do not negatively impact the peach crop, freezes later in the season after the weather warms can have a devastating effect, as was the case in 2007, when an April freeze resulted in significant losses of most of the peaches in the southeastern part of the country, Layne said. Once the peaches have begun responding to warmer temperatures, they certainly can't go backwards, and freezing temperatures after the buds have opened would likely result in the loss of the fruit. Layne said that he cannot recall any loss of peaches in nearly 15 years coming as a result of a January freeze. "Right now, I think we are on track for hopefully a good year. We've had the chilling that we need up until now, and really what we would like to see is cool temperatures to persist until March and then things to warm up and stay warm. That would be ideal," said Layne. "But, if they warm up too fast, usually what happens is we have a cold snap that comes sometime in March after what can be a warm up period, and that's devastating." More information about the peach crop this year can be found at www.clemson.edu/peach. Peach season begins in mid-May and continues through the first week of September, Rodgers said. Contact Anna Dolianitis at adolianitis@aikenstandard.com.