Knight goes for 4th Auction title

Published 3:45 pm Friday, June 17, 2011

Mark and Melissa Knight of M&M Farms have won the last three Peach Auctions with their PF13 variety. Last year’s basket was bought by the Chilton Farmers Federation for $2,300. Shown with the Knights are Jimmy Parnell from the Farmers Federation and the 2010 Peach Queens, Jessica Swindle, Kaitlin Ray, Leah Easterling and Gracie Owens. This year’s Peach Auction will be the morning of Saturday, June 25, following the Peach Parade.

There’s no doubt about it: streaks are amazing.

People become captivated by watching a person or team win more, or play more, or do something more consecutive times than anyone else.

The Chilton County Peach Auction is no different.

While it’s not on the same national level as, say, the Super Bowl or BCS Championship Game, it’s big business around these parts.

Mark Knight of M&M Farms is trying to make it four years in a row that his basket has brought home the big money. Like anyone who has ever tried extending a streak of importance, he knows he has his work cut out for him.

“I would love to tie Mr. Jerry Harrison’s record of five consecutive wins,” he said. “[But] I’m not one to say I’m going to win before the auction.”

Knight said the peaches he has used the last few years, PF13s, had to be picked early due to the heat. He said it might be a setback, but he still feels confident in the peaches he has to use.

“We’ve got some others we’re going to try,” he said. “We won’t know how they stack up until the auction. Our PF13s came off too early to use this year, so we’re going to try some Bounty peaches.”

Raising a strong basket of peaches for the auction might seem easy, but there are so many variables to consider.

Weather conditions, disease, and downright luck all play a factor in deciding which peaches to submit to the judges.

Knight knows he has been very fortunate the last three years, but says he can’t pinpoint one specific reason why he has done so well.

“I can’t really attribute to one thing,” he said. “I think good fortune and good weather helped. I give credit most of my success to the Good Lord. I know bad things happen to Christians too, but He’s really helped us. It has a lot to do with timing as well.”

Knight said the way he does things is no different than anyone else entered.

“We do the normal process that others do,” he said. “I set aside three or four trees. I’ll take Topaz, PF13, Bounty and a couple more and give them special treatment, making sure they get water. Closer to time for the auction I’ll take out leaves to help give them color.”

He also said the only thing he does different is how he arranges the peaches in the basket.

I think what helps us is the way we present them; making sure they’re all the same color, the way we put them in the basket. As far as I know, they aren’t taken out of the basket during judging.”

Knight said he felt growing peaches the right size really made entering a winning basket tough.

“Having peaches bigger than ordinary [is difficult],” he said. “We have to lay them out on a table and then decide which is closest in size and color and which look the best together. You have more than 30 to choose from, and you have to make them look uniform.”

The Peach Auction will begin at 10:30 a.m. June 25, at Jack Hayes Field in Clanton.

Money raised during the Peach Auction benefits the Clanton Lions Club, and their charitable work in the community, including providing eyecare to children.

For more information about the auction, contact Tom Brown at 755-2533.