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North Carolina bounces back with larger peach crop

North Carolina is welcoming a large crop of peaches this season. "A few growers have had issues with hail which is a bad thing. Other than that, every bloom made a peach so we have to thin them down," says Ken Chappell of Chappell Peaches.

Growing conditions in the region going into the season have seen almost too much rain. However, for Chappell, his farm is located in the Sandhills of North Carolina which means it drains quickly.

Picking of North Carolina peaches began last week.

Peach picking in the state began last week on some early peaches and this start time gets back to some more historical timing on North Carolina production. "We normally start around May 20th so we're pretty close to being on schedule," says Chappell, adding that the harvest of the approximately 30 varieties of peaches will go until late September, weather permitting.

Along with North Carolina, Georgia is also currently in its peach harvest and reports indicate a good crop this season. "Last year they were devastated by freeze so they needed a big crop," says Chappell, noting Georgia began picking around May 10th. Meanwhile, South Carolina, which has had challenges with getting enough rain this season, started shortly after around May 15th.

Looking at demand
Demand is anticipated to be good for North Carolina peaches and for Chappell Peaches, its first peaches are sent to the wholesale market while his fruit stand will open further into June. "Wholesale demand is about normal–it's not off and it's not better. It's just about the same," says Chappell.

Left: Most of the state's peaches tend to stay in North Carolina. Right: the Chappell family.

In terms of distribution, these days most of North Carolina's peaches tend to stay within the state–a change from the days when it used to ship more fruit out of state. "Of the growers left, there are about seven or eight big growers and we do a good job of supplying North Carolina and upper South Carolina with peaches. That's where our niche is," says Chappell.

As for pricing, retail pricing should be similar to last year. "Wholesale I think we'll be down a dollar or two because of the volume," says Chappell. That's different from last year when North Carolina only had 50-60 percent of a crop and pricing was on the stronger side. "Those prices were higher than the year before but we're now going to go back down to probably more like 2022 pricing levels."

For more information:
Ken Chappell
Chappell Peaches
Tel: +1 (910) 673-1878
[email protected]