Get your pie recipes ready and start staking out your favorite roadside stands. This summer's South Carolina peach crop is expected to be a banner one.
That's a big rebound. Last year's season was a dud, as trees were devastated by an unseasonably warm winter and a hard freeze in mid-March.
"Growers are pretty happy with the season that is coming. They are in a good mood and hopeful that we are going to have a great season," Juan Carolos Melgar, Clemson University assistant professor, told Southeast Farm Press.
Andy Rollins, a fruit and vegetable agent with Clemson University, told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal that it might be the most bountiful harvest of the past decade.
"I don’t think I'm being overly optimistic to say that we have a full crop on our hands," Rollins told the newspaper. "And not just a few growers. I think most of the region is looking good."
That is, unless there's a hail storm or other weather event between now and June, when the season typically begins in South Carolina. Peach lovers should expect to be able to get fresh, local peaches through Labor Day.
Georgia's peach season, which starts a little earlier — in mid-May — also is expected to be a good one, WCTV reported.
The S.C. Department of Agriculture said the state's peach harvest, in pounds, is typically about three times larger than Georgia's.
The agency's website explains that Georgia is known as the peach state because commercial peach production started there.
3 things about ripe peaches
Here's what agriculture officials and the South Carolina Peach Council have to say about selecting and eating peaches:
- The color of a peach is only a reflection of how much sun the fruit received on the tree. A red or blush color is not an indication of ripeness. Instead, try to find peaches that have a "pleasant peachy sweet smell."
- The softer the fruit becomes, the sweeter and juicier it will be when eaten. They can be eaten at any stage of ripening if you prefer a little tartness, though.
- Peaches need to ripen at room temperature. Store them on the kitchen counter until they are as ripe as you'd like them to be, then tuck them into the fridge or freeze them.