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Peach crop flop a chance to 'rebrand' Georgia

If you want to teach a child the value of education, get them a summer job on a farm.

There's something about spending a beautiful day cleaning up after large animals with robust digestive tracts that makes a kid fully consider their vocational options.

It was while learning how to shovel out a stall I decided I'd try writing for a living. Shoveling words with a keyboard was a sure path to wealth, fewer flies and more air conditioning, I figured. Two out of three ain't bad.

Summer job opportunities in Atlanta lack the character-building opportunities of my youth. During a quick Internet search I couldn't find one that didn't include the climate-controlled comfort of a fast-food restaurant or mall.

Speaking of the climate, one place you can't ship your kid to work this summer is a peach farm. The AJC reports  80 percent of Georgia's crop is lost . It's even worse in South Carolina, where officials say no commercial peach packing shed will open.

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What happened? A mild winter is great for heating bills, but the lack of chilly weather killed fuzzy fruit production.

What is the Peach State without peaches?

Despite the ubiquity of the fruit on Atlanta street signs, calling Georgia "The Peach State" is a bit like calling Tiger Woods for a ride home.

California, in 2015, produced 607,000 tons of peaches. South Carolina produced 70,000 tons.

Georgia? 40,000 tons.

We are the Atlanta Braves of peach production, producing only 6 percent of what California grows.

Since we're never going to win the Peach War, why not take this opportunity to re-brand Georgia?

If the world made any sense, we'd be called "The Chicken State."

According to the aptly named National Chicken Council , our state, in 2016, produced more broilers -- young chickens -- than any other.

Georgia's No. 2 cash commodity is eggs, but nationally we rank sixth or seventh in production.

If the poultry idea doesn't hatch, how about "The Goober State?"

Georgia produces almost half of all peanuts grown in the U.S. and it is our official state crop.

The Peach State is also tops in blueberry and pecan production. And we grow a lot of cotton, watermelons and onions.

How far down the list of cash crops do you have to go to find peaches?

I'm not sure. The list I saw stopped at 12 and it didn't mention them.

There's many upsides to Georgia forgetting about peaches.

Renaming a few streets might help confused visitors but what I really want is a better license plate.  I don't know who designs those things but they could use a long, hot summer in a horse stall.












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