More peaches planted recently than over the last 10 years
Georgia peach growers anticipate large and healthy crop
The state of Georgia experienced a laundry list of weather events that limited growers to a 15 per cent crop statewide last year. This year, however, appears to be looking just peachy. Growers in the state are optimistically excited about what’s to come when the season starts in mid-May.
Duke Lane of Genuine Georgia says this winter has been a ‘normal’ winter with good weather conditions. “We’ve had lots of cold weather which peaches need for adequate dormancy and we’ve had twice the chill hours needed versus last year,” he says. “We’re anticipating a big crop of Georgia peaches.” Last year’s struggle should turn out a very large crop, according to Lane. “Because trees weren’t as productive last year we’re anticipating a lot of flowers and a good healthy piece of fruit.”
Telling Georgia peach story
Collaboration as opposed to competition brought Georgia peach farmers together. Both Lane Southern Orchards and Pearson Farm, families who grow Georgia peaches have a 100-year plus stake in the peach growing business. Past experience of working with brokers didn’t result in providing continuity to retailers, nor what they felt was the proper telling of the Georgia peach story. “We realized we had this amazing brand and a phenomenal story to tell and great eating experience,” says Lane. “There wasn’t any need for us to be competing on accounts, because there was enough business for all of us.” Lane says now with the involvement and support of their growers they’ve planted more peaches in the last three to four years than the last 10 combined. “From a peach perspective it’s an exciting time in Georgia.”
Pecans are also important for Georgia
Pecans follow a close second for the state. Genuine Georgia’s pecan shelling facility, though still in its early stages, has doubled in the last three years, he says. Becoming vertically integrated was an early goal of the Genuine Georgia team. Pecan season begins in early October and extends through December; the shelling facility processes the nuts from October until the end of April just as peaches are being harvested.
Pecan crops have improved greatly over the years. Lane says after shelling just 70,000 lbs. in 2013 Genuine Georgia now shells almost one million pounds of pecans per year, packaged to order and shipped across the US and Canada. Apparently the American Pecan Council, founded just two years ago, has big plans for the nut in 2018. Lane says there will be a push campaign to drive consumption of pecans domestically. With peach season right around the corner Genuine Georgia will be touting Georgia peaches as well as pecans at the Southern Exposure show in March.
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Publication date: 2/9/2018
Author: Rebecca D Dumais
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