Ernest and Virginia Payne pick peaches

July 2010 - Bumper Crop of Peaches at EV Farm in Blairsville, Georgia

Ernest and Virginia Payne have recently harvested a bumper crop of peaches on their farm in Union County. Virginia says, “We have picked at least seven bushels of peaches from these two trees!”

The two peach trees, an Elberta and a Georgia Bell, are about four years old and are proving to be big producers. Everyone in the Payne family is up to their elbows in peaches!

Canned peaches are great to open up and eat right out of the jar. They can be spooned over hot biscuits for a delicious, quick dessert. Frozen peaches make excellent snacks right out of the freezer. Thaw for a couple of minutes and eat while still frosty. Both canned and frozen peaches can be used for pies, cobblers, fruit salads, Jell-O moulds, sauces, and more.

Although Georgia is still called the Peach State, it actually ranks third in United States peach production behind California and South Carolina. Fresh Georgia peaches are available about sixteen weeks out of each year, from mid-May to late August.

Georgia produces more than 40 commercial varieties of peaches, which are divided into three general categories including freestone, semi-free, and clingstone. Peach production in Georgia reached an all time high of almost 8 million bushels in 1928. Since then, production has decreased to approximately 2.6 million bushels annually.

Peaches originally came from Japan. The first peaches were planted in Georgia in the 18th century and the first commercial production started in the 19th century. The peach is a member of the rose family and should have a sweet fragrance when ripe. If you don’t have your own trees, peaches are still available at the Union County Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Prices are currently running around $18 to $20 per half bushel.