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Peaches


I love peaches.  We are currently on our 2nd or 3rd peach tree.  Unfortunately, this is not a happy climate for peaches, which are native to northwest China.  In looking at the climatic requirements, it's amazing we ever get peaches here.

Peaches require cold - 500 hours of temps between 35 and 50 degrees, but a spring frost can kill the blooms - anything below 25 degrees in March or April will do the deed.  Then you need a warm summer to ripen the fruit - the 70's and 80's will do nicely.  Winter rains at 60 degrees or colder will encourage serious fungal diseases which can kill the trees.  So the magic climate is hot as needed, cold as needed, rain only when it's warm and please don't have any odd cold or hot spells.  It's a wonder we have peaches at all.

Spain and China produce the majority of the world's peaches.  Here in the US it is California, Georgia, North Carolina and New Jersey that do the heavy lifting for peach production. Despite being the known for its peaches, Georgia produces only about 13% of our US crop.  Lots of other states grow some peaches, too.

2017 was a horrible year for peaches.  There was a warmer than normal winter then a late hard frost the killed nearly 75% of the peach blossoms in Georgia.  Other parts of the country also had weather issues.  We had no peaches this year on our one and only peach tree although it is still alive and kicking.  It was that early freeze at the exactly wrong time that lost us our very small but much appreciated harvest.

We lived in Tulsa, OK for 16 years and during many of those years we were buying Porter Peaches each spring.  We would drive out to the orchards and pick up a case of peaches. Back at the house I would cut them all up and peel them and preserve them.  Many went into the freezer already mixed with sugar and cinnamon to be peach pies throughout the year.  The rest were cooked down into peach butter - always my favorite for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

My brother was bemoaning the lack of peaches in Georgia this spring and wasn't all that impressed with our Texas peaches once he arrived here from Atlanta.  Since Peggy and I were in Oklahoma for the Fiber Christmas in July show, we stopped on our way home and picked up some peaches at a roadside fruit stand south of McAlester, OK.  I thought it would be fun to see if they were as wonderful as the Porter peaches I remembered and wanted my brother's opinion on how they compared to Georgia peaches.  It was not a pretty picture.  The peaches were pithy and not at all flavorful.  I didn't actually throw them away but it was close.  I don't know if we were tasting the aftereffects of the bad weather this past winter and spring or if my remembrance of the peaches has been enhanced through time.

Fun Fact #1 - Nectarines are NOT a cross between a peach and a plum.  Peaches have a gene for fuzziness.  If that gene is dominant, you get peaches.  If it is recessive, you get nectarines.

Fun Fact #2 - Peggy doesn't eat fuzzy fruit so I get to eat ALL the peaches.