Local News

A Peachy Crop Predicted

Posted March 30, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Come early summer, Tar Heel tables may well be laden with peach cobbler and deep-dish pie, homemade ice cream, peach Melba, and all manner of jams and jellies that star peaches. The reason? A fabulous crop of the fuzzy fruit.

Right now, the trees are slathered in bloom. And every tiny flower has the potential to swell into a luscious rotund peach.

In a few weeks, however, the abundant blooms may force a dilemma on the farmers: whether to prop up overloaded branches or to prune back to ensure production of fewer, but better-sized fruit less likely to damage their trees.

North Carolina usually ranks eighth in peach production. Annual harvest is about 32 million pounds. Last year's devastating March freezes knocked that harvest down to only 1.9 million pounds.

This year's crop is benefiting, ironically, from last year's disappointment. Since no energy was required to produce fruit in substantial quantities last year, the energy carried over to boosting this year's output.

One peach farmer predicted the crop could even come in early -- but frost can show up capriciously when it's least desired.

If temperatures remain steady, stores and roadside stands should be running over with peaches by the second week in June. So dig out those recipes.