Peaches ready for 2014 season kick-offBy Staff Reports Published 9:14pm Wednesday, May 28, 2014
By Whitney Denson
Peaches in Chilton County are already being harvested and sold to locals and tourists alike.
The peach season will officially begin with the annual Peach Season Kick-Off, sponsored by Durbin Farms and the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce, Friday, May 30 from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. at Durbin Farms.
Every year has seen a great turn-out, especially last year, according to Fran Knowles, manager at Durbin Farms.
“We should have an even better turn-out this year,” Knowles said. “We already have good peaches on the shelves, and we will have more activities for the kids this year.”
A line-up of speakers will include Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey and John McMillan, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture. According to Knowles, several politicians and tourism representatives may join in speaking as well.
Radio station WHPH, 97.7 “The Peach” will be broadcasting at the event.
This year’s kick-off will be improved in that the first responders of Chilton County will be recognized for their hard work and the safety they ensure the people of the county.
An ambulance, fire truck and a police car will be at the site for kids to see. Free handouts and face painting, specifically a “peach on the cheek,” will also be available.
Knowles and Ellis Stewart, accounting executive at WHPH radio, joined efforts to organize the event.
“We really want to express our appreciation to the first responders this year,” said Knowles. “And we always like to celebrate agriculture and tourism.”
Peaches are maturing countywide and farms such as Culp Fruits anticipate a great year.
According to Angie Glass, owner of Culp Fruits, the harvest is right on schedule compared to an early harvest in previous years. They have just finished up the Flavorich variety and will begin picking the Carored variety in the next few days.
“This season is off to a slow start for us, but we are optimistic that things will pick up,” Glass said. “We have had to make a few changes over the past few years to adjust to the public’s buying habits, but we are still going and hope to continue for generations to come.”
Last year, Chilton County experienced an unusually late peach season because of an abnormally cold winter, and did not have the kick-off until June 15.
Chilton County Research and Extension Center Director Jim Pitts said the peaches are ripening a little late but have time to catch up and be on schedule for the mid-June and July harvests.
“The cooler spring temperatures have pushed the season back a week or two,” Pitts said. “The peaches are a little late, but I am confident in saying that they will be ready by next week.”
Earlier varieties available in the coming weeks include clingstone peaches, in which the flesh clings to the pit, such as June Prince, Ruby Prince, Crimson Lady, Red Haven and Carored.
Later varieties include freestone peaches, in which the flesh easily separates from the pit, such as the Majestic and Jefferson.
The Chilton County Extension Office provides a directory each year of peach farms throughout the county. To view the list, visit www.aces.edu.