Ask Skip: Peach trees and shallow holes

Vego Garden
Vego Garden

By Skip Richter, Contributing Editor

Peach Indian Blood in bloom | Vego Garden

Q: I want to plant a peach tree and was told that I need to select one with the right number of chilling hours. How do I know how many chilling hours I get in my area?

A: It is indeed important to choose a peach (or plum, apple or pear) tree according to the amount of chilling your area typically receives or it may bloom too early or be very slow to leaf out and hardly bloom at all. The actual chill hours received at your property can vary quite a bit from year to year and between microclimates in a general area. So any area’s listed chill hours is based on an average over a number of years.

The following web publication has a map of Texas with estimated average chilling hours across the state: It also gives peach varieties for each area of Texas based on chilling hours and would be a great resource for recommended varieties to consider.

If you want to be more exact for a specific year, the following two options allow for you to enter your location and a range of dates (Nov. 1 to March 1 is a good range) and determine how many chilling hours you received last winter. When the results are calculated and displayed, use the “Between 45 and 32 Model” to get the number for fruit-tree chilling requirements.

Option 1: Go to and either click on “By Current Location” or “By Zip Code” for the search location. Choose date range and then click on “Get Chill Hours.”

Option 2: Visit WunderMap to get your nearest weather station ID. 

Sapsucker holes on Lacy Oak | Vego Garden

Q: I have recently noticed that my Bradford pear tree has a lot of little shallow holes around the trunk, but I don’t see any sawdust and they don’t appear to go deep into the tree. Is this caused by borers? If so, can it be treated?

A: I bet you are seeing the shallow holes of the sapsucker bird, which is a type of woodpecker. These are typically about as wide and as deep as a pencil eraser, and are arranged in horizontal lines as if a machine gun shot the tree! These birds feed on the sap of many tree species. There is no cause for alarm if the damage is minor, and the tree will not be significantly harmed. No treatment is needed, but if you can talk a lazy cat into patrolling the tree trunk, that might help!

Leave a comment