Peaches thrive despite summer showers

Pictured are Red Haven peaches available at Pierce Farms in Clanton. Freestone peaches will be available countywide in the upcoming week.

Pictured are Red Haven peaches available at Pierce Farms in Clanton. Freestone peaches will be available countywide in the upcoming week.

Although rainy weather may not be ideal for the final days of the Peach Festival, it certainly hasn’t dampened the growth and sales of peaches countywide.

Red Haven and Majestic are among the clingstone peach varieties available now.

Director of the Chilton County Research and Extension Center Jim Pitts said we are in the midst of the transition from clingstone peaches, where the flesh clings to the pit, to the freestone peaches, where the flesh willingly separates from the pit.

“We are about to get to the heart of the best varieties,” Pitts said. “The best peaches will be available around the Fourth of July holiday, which is good because of all the tourists that will be coming through Chilton County at that time.”

Among the early July freestone varieties are the Gold Prince and July Prince.

Despite a somewhat late start to peach season, Pitts said that this year seems to be a typical year for peaches.

The rain and humidity has caused some crops to rot, and insects have done a small amount of damage, but these are common obstacles in the world of peach farming.

Pierce Farms of Clanton does a lot of business with locals, but possibly even more with tourists.

Whitley Hines of Pierce Farms said that everyone wants some Chilton County peaches.

“We have a lot of competition,” Hines said. “We have to give the customers what they want and at a good price to be able to compete.”

Pierce Farms owner Tim Pierce said this year got off to a rough start because of the prolonged freezing temperatures this winter.

“The demand for peaches seems to be more than the supply this year,” Tim said. “We are working hard to get enough peaches on the stand. We will have some freestone peaches in the next week, and those are the kind most people really love.”

Todd’s Produce of Clanton also saw damage to their peach crops early in the season due to unusually late frost.

However, they have gone through a recovery process and are as busy as ever this week, due to the Peach Festival.

“We have so many tourists, but local people have picked up as well and have started buying more,” co-owner Dordie Hayes said. “If you’re going to lose peaches, you want to lose them early. We have been busy this past week, and I expect July to bring in normal, good sales since the freestone varieties are coming in.”

Summer showers have also been a major factor in the peaches’ maturation.

Meteorologist Aaron Gleason with the National Weather Service in Calera said recent weather has followed a typical summer pattern of scattered thunderstorms in the afternoons.

Locals and tourists are hoping for a break in the rain as the final events of the Peach Festival conclude this weekend, and there is only a small chance of rain each day in the weekend forecast.

Slightly cooler temperatures will result from Thursday’s evening rain as temperatures drop to the upper-80s and low-90s in the upcoming week, a minor change from the mid-90s experienced in the previous week.

Precipitation in Chilton County is about 3 inches above the average rate of 30 inches since the beginning of the year.

Friday will have a high of 89 and a low of 70, with a 30-percent chance of rain. Saturday will have a high of 90 and a low of 71, with a 10-percent chance of rain. Sunday will have a high of 90 and a low of 70, with a 30-percent chance of rain.

 

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