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OPINION: Peach season has begun

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Peaches are here!

Our largest local celebration, The Peach Festival, is creeping ever closer as we mark this first weekend in June.

However, the signature fruit that has put this county on the map has already made an appearance.

Early varieties, so called because they are the quickest to ripen and be available for harvest, are now for sale at some vendors in the county.

These first fruits of the season may be a bit earlier than expected, but the volume available is also less than may have been anticipated in some areas.

Edgar Vinson of the Chilton Regional Research and Extension Center said a late frost had a negative impact on early varieties because they were already far along in the blooming process.

This is one reason orchards grow so many different varieties, sometimes as many as 30-50, to ensure a good crop over the full season.

Vinson said the later varieties here in the county will be more plentiful.

So, what it is it that makes a Chilton County peach so sought after?

I’ve talked to people from out-of-town who stop in Chilton County on their way to the beach just to get some peaches.

Maybe it’s the size.

Many Chilton County growers go to great lengths to ensure their peaches will be large — 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 inches in diameter.

To achieve this size, thinning the buds on each tree is essential to keep too many peaches from developing so the remaining buds have enough nutrients.

Or maybe it’s the variety.

As many as 50 different varieties have been grown in Chilton County, giving residents and visitors plenty to try to find their favorite.

Maybe it’s the taste that draws people in.

Chilton County peaches are the sweetest I have ever tasted — and I wasn’t a big raw peaches fan until I tasted one.

The draw to this locally iconic fruit is most likely a combination of all three —size, variety and taste.

Whatever your reason for liking Chilton County peaches, find your favorite and enjoy the season.