Peach crop faring well, helping economy

Rex Cooper buys peaches from Nicole Allison at Pierce Farms in Clanton on Wednesday.

Rex Cooper buys peaches from Nicole Allison at Pierce Farms in Clanton on Wednesday.

In comparison to last year’s unusually late peach season, this year’s crops have farmers anticipating a great harvest.

Peaches have already begun to hit the shelves at fruit stands and grocery stores, as the early varieties are now available.

Clingstone peaches, in which the flesh of the peach clings to the pit, are now available, and varieties such as Caroreds and Goldcrest can be found this week.

According to Chilton County Research and Extension Center Director Jim Pitts, the Red Haven and Harvester varieties should be available next week.

The upcoming varieties will be “transition peaches,” transitioning from clingstone to freestone, in which the flesh of the peach separates easily from the pit, Pitts said.

If there’s one thing farmers can agree on this year, it’s that the peaches are looking promising.

Tim Minor, owner of Sunshine Farms in Clanton, said his peach crops were doing “really great.”

“Plenty of sunshine has made the flavor real good and plenty of rain has made the size better,” Minor said. “We’re actually running a little ahead of schedule this year.”

Culp Fruits Owner Angie Glass said they have “plenty of peaches” this year as well.

“It was kind of a slow start, but things are picking up,” Glass said. “We’re harvesting the Jim Gold variety right now.”

Glass said Culp Fruits is preparing for the more popular varieties, which usually appear around the end of June, by keeping the trees sprayed with insecticides.

According to Pitts, the heavy rainfall in Chilton County over the past few weeks has caused insects to become a nuisance to many farmers.

“The rain has caused some pest issues because the rain makes it hard for the pesticides to work,” Pitts said. “But that’s just an everyday challenge for peach farmers. Overall, we’ve had a good amount of sun and rain.”

Pitts also said this year’s peach haul should produce benefits for the local economy.

“I would estimate roughly $1 million will be generated for the economy by the end of the season,” Pitts said. “That includes the farmers buying fuel, tires, sprays, fertilizer and other materials needed for harvesting. Farmers buy these things local most of the time and it shows in our economy.”

As the peaches begin hitting the stands, Durbin Farms Market is getting ready for the annual Peach Season Kick-Off.

The Kick-Off will be at Durbin Farms Market, located at 2130 7th St. S in Clanton, on Friday, June 5 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The community is invited to attend.

For more information about the event, call Durbin Farms Market at (205) 755-1672.

 

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