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Peach crop important to many

It has already started. “How are the peaches doing this year? How big is the crop going to be?

I hear those questions from non-Chilton County residents via the telephone and via e-mail almost every day in March and April.

When I am traveling around the state this time of year, those who know I am from Chilton County ask the same questions. When I moved here 33 years ago, I thought those who questioned the status of the peach crop here were just being nice, having something to say.

I now know that is not the case. People from throughout Alabama and many from states like Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida and even Georgia really are interested in our annual peach crop. Thousands of people come to Chilton County each year to purchase peaches. Some even pick them off the trees themselves.

Many of the people who question me about the crop each year tell me they need to know because they always plan a trip to Chilton County if they know peaches are abundant. Some who are traveling to and from Florida on vacations choose their route of travel based on the availability of peaches. A resident of Ohio told me his family travels down I-65 to vacation in Florida every year if they know the peaches are ready here. They chose to go down I-75 through Georgia if they heard the county’s peach crop was off.

Riding through Chilton County’s peach country recently, I found the orchards were ablaze with blooms. That normally indicates a good crop is on the way if Mother Nature cooperates and we do not have freezing weather.

However, as I write this on Saturday, the National Weather Service has forecast a low of 29 degrees for Tuesday night. I’m sure many area fruit farmers will spend a restless night Tuesday hoping the cold weather will not hurt their crops.

I plan to say a prayer for the fruit farmers and their crops. When I consider how much a big peach crop means to our economy, I hope you will join me with a prayer of your own.