Peaches see late harvest

Published 2:16 pm Friday, June 4, 2010

Be patient. The peaches are coming.

Chilton Research and Extension Center superintendent Jim Pitts says they’re looking good, too.

The past couple of seasons suffered from a low number of overall chill hours and late spring freezes that reduced several crops and caused pollination issues on several varieties. Bacterial problems as a result of poorly timed rain didn’t even allow some farmers to harvest their orchards.

This year’s crops did not share that experience.

“This year’s crop is bigger than the past two or three years,” Pitts said. “The volume is going to be better, and there are no bacterial problems. Everything’s been clean. The rain’s been adequate and timely.”

Pitts said some peaches are currently being harvested but most may arrive up to two weeks later than anticipated. For example, popular varieties like loring peaches, which usually harvest around July 4, will likely show up around July 15 instead.

Some farmers suspect that could be the case all summer unless the heat can help make up some time.

Peak peach season surfaces between mid-June and the first of August, Pitts said. But he said the best peaches, both cling and non-cling peaches, could wait until the third week of June to reveal themselves.

The season normally lasts through August, though Pitts expects this one to run into September due to the long winter and spring.

“That’s OK, though,” Pitts said. “The crop wasn’t coming in a couple of weeks ago. Things are really starting to come in now. It looks really good.”