Peaches come through in season that was 'crucial'
By Nathan Hardin
After three terrible seasons that included one total crop loss in 2007, Kevin and Ellen Huffman, owners of Huffman’s Peaches & Produce at 4825 Goodman Lake Road, knew this season was crucial.
“It was a blessing,” Ellen Huffman said. “This season was a crucial year to have a full crop.”
After significant losses the last three years and the closing of a Philip Morris plant where Kevin Huffman has been employed for 24 years, this season was a breath of fresh air.
“I would love to do this full-time, if I could be guaranteed a crop every year,” Kevin said.
But in the peach business, everything depends on the weather and no one knows this better than the Huffmans.
“It all depends on how the cold pockets and cold weather settles in,” Kevin Huffman said. “The cold snap that came late this year really hurt South Carolina peaches because they’re two weeks ahead of us.”
Even with an exceptional year for the Huffmans, they will still only yield 75 percent of overall crops due to freeze damage.
“This is one of the best years we’ve ever had,” said Kevin. “We have peaches the size of grapefruits and some that weigh over a pound.”
Huffman’s Peaches & Produce has expanded to 1,100 trees on six acres since their start in 1998. They also have a 54-tree plot specifically used by N.C. State University for six enhanced varieties.
The Huffmans provide 18 different varieties of peaches that are handpicked daily by five employees on 6-foot stepladders.
Despite the constant adversity that comes with the peach business, the Huffmans remain optimistic and continue to enjoy the peach season.
“It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding,” Kevin said.
His wife elaborated, “The same people come back every year. It’s like a family reunion.”
Huffman Peaches & Produce opens at 9 a.m. Monday to Friday and offers everything from blackberries to the Asian “doughnut shaped” peach.