Peaches in short supply this summer

Published 12:06 am Saturday, July 8, 2017

SALISBURY — Most Southerners associate fond memories with the peach — enjoying a bowl of peach cobbler with ice cream on the front porch, sipping peach tea on a humid July day, or enjoying fresh peach ice cream on a hot Saturday night.

Peaches are a nostalgic fruit, one reminiscent of summers gone by.

But the fruit is in jeopardy this year.

While some North Carolina peach growers are producing fairly well, Rowan County orchards are virtually peachless. An early warm spell followed by a late freeze killed this year’s crop.

Peach farmers in Georgia and South Carolina also did not fare so well for the same reason — an extremely mild winter and a harsh spring frost. Peach prices doubled this year in orchards across the two states. Farmers lost nearly 80 percent of their peach crop.

But there are bright spots in North Carolina.

Alan Deal of Deal Orchards in Taylorsville said his orchard is one of the lucky ones this year, with many flourishing  varieties.

“We’ve had a fairly large crop this year,” said Deal. “Some other farms south of us had trouble with spring freeze, but we were on the edge of the cold.”

Deal said his orchard has been fortunate enough to harvest 85 percent to 90 percent of its peach crop this year. This has been one of their busiest times for peach harvesting, he added.

Deal Orchards, about an hour west of Salisbury, is charging $12 for a peck and $8 for half a peck. It sells many varieties, including Contenders, Snow Kings, Snow Giants and nectarines.