For many, summer conjures thoughts of family vacations, fireworks and sweet, juicy peaches. Growers are expecting a strong harvest that will ensure a steady supply of the delicious summer fruit into September.
“We lost some early varieties because of the late freeze, but we’ll be picking a lot starting the first week of July,” said Danny Bynum of Bynum Peach Farm in Richmond County.
Bynum is a third-generation peach grower, and has been working with peaches since he was 13 years old. He was hired to bud trees at the Sandhills Research Station in Jackson Springs, where his father was a technician. Bynum now grows about 14 varieties of peaches on his family’s land, and sells them at his orchard and at farmers markets in Albemarle and Asheboro.
While peaches are grown across the state, the highest concentration of growers is in the Sandhills region. Montgomery, Anson and Moore counties are the top peach-producing counties in North Carolina. The majority of those peaches are sold directly to consumers at farmers markets and roadside stands. Tree-ripened peaches set the N.C. peach market apart from neighboring states where peaches are picked prematurely and sent to facilities for processing and canning.
“Sunlight is the key to the flavor and taste of a peach,” Bynum said. “A tree-ripened peach is 10 times better than a green peach picked and shipped.”
There will be a lot of chances to celebrate local, tree-ripened peaches in the coming weeks. Following are special events planned across the state:
•July 11 – Peach Day at the State Farmers Market, Raleigh;
•July 19 – Peach Day at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market, Colfax;
•July 20 – N.C. Peach Festival, Candor;
•July 26 – Peach Day at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, Charlotte.
The Peach Day events will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and will include peach ice cream samples and visits from the N.C. Peach Queen. The State Farmers Market and Piedmont Triad Farmers Market also will host a peach dessert contest. The N.C. Peach Festival starts at 10 a.m. and includes a parade, live entertainment and plenty of peaches.
Consumers can find peach orchards in their area by searching online at www.ncfarmfresh.com. More information about N.C. peaches, including histories of peach growers and peach recipes, is available at www.ncpeachgrowers.com.