It’s peach-pickin’ time in the Peach State

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Peach-pickin’ time in the Peach State.In a good year, Georgia produces some 130 million pounds of peaches. .Most of that comes from the huge orchards of three major growers in Crawford and Peach counties in mid-central Georgia. .Around mid-May, workers start fanning out into the sprawling orchards to handpick the peaches and then haul them to the growers’ nearby packinghouses.There, the fruits are washed, sorted, and then packed and shipped by the ton to markets all over the Eastern seaboard

Travels with Charlie

Welcome to May and to the start of the Peach State’s famed peach-pickin’ season. It’s when I start getting the urge to sink my teeth into a juicy, mouth-watering Georgia peach. In my mind, if you could actually taste a perfect summer day, it would be like tasting a Georgia-grown peach.

In a good year, Georgia produces some 130 million pounds of peaches. Most of that comes from the huge orchards of three major growers in Crawford and Peach counties in mid-central Georgia. Around mid-May, workers start fanning out into the sprawling orchards to handpick the peaches and then haul them to the growers’ nearby packinghouses. There, the fruits are washed, sorted, and then packed and shipped by the ton to markets all over the Eastern seaboard.

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Washing, sorting and grading peaches at Lane Southern Orchards, Fort Valley, GA (Peach County).

Credit: Reporter News

Washing, sorting and grading peaches at Lane Southern Orchards, Fort Valley, GA (Peach County).

Credit: Reporter News

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Washing, sorting and grading peaches at Lane Southern Orchards, Fort Valley, GA (Peach County).

Credit: Reporter News

Credit: Reporter News

Many peach lovers like me, though, flock to the growers’ packinghouses — each of which have retail stores — to buy peaches directly from them. My wife, Laura, and I, in fact, take at least two or three such trips each season (which runs through mid-August) to pick up a box or more of Georgia peaches. I need a steady supply because my craving means that I may eat several peaches a day in summer.

Plenty enough peaches should be available this season — despite a late freeze in March when temperatures dipped to as low as 22 degrees and damaged some orchards just starting to bloom. “It hurt us, but, overall, we should be in good shape this season,” said Lee Dickey of Dickey Farms in Crawford County, one of Georgia’s three biggest peach producers.

Spread over 1,000 acres with more than 100,000 peach trees producing some 20 varieties, family-owned Dickey Farms has been growing peaches for more than 120 years in Crawford County. Its picturesque peach packinghouse in the scenic town of Musella is the oldest, continuously operating such facility in the Peach State.

Laura said she’d visit Dickey’s packinghouse and store if for no other reason than to plop down in one of their comfortable rocking chairs on their “front porch” and enjoy a two-scoop cup of Dickey’s famous homemade peach ice cream. At the same time, one can watch packinghouse workers washing and packing the peaches as the fruits roll along the conveyor belts.

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Washing, sorting and grading peaches at Lane Southern Orchards, Fort Valley, GA (Peach County).

Credit: Reporter News

Washing, sorting and grading peaches at Lane Southern Orchards, Fort Valley, GA (Peach County).

Credit: Reporter News

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Washing, sorting and grading peaches at Lane Southern Orchards, Fort Valley, GA (Peach County).

Credit: Reporter News

Credit: Reporter News

Things are just as peachy at Georgia’s two other biggest peach farms and packinghouses — Pearson Farm, also in Crawford County, and Lane Southern Orchards in Peach County.

Since 1985, five generations of Pearsons have been growing peaches on the same land, which now encompasses about 1,500 acres of peach trees.

Lane Southern Orchards and Taylor Orchards merged in 2018 to create the largest peach and pecan operation in the United States. The consolidated operation packs peaches under the Lane Southern Orchards label. Taylor Orchards farms 3,000 acres of peaches; Lane farms 2,000 acres.

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Lane Southern Orchards packinghouse, Fort Valley, GA (Peach County).

Credit: Reporter News

Lane Southern Orchards packinghouse, Fort Valley, GA (Peach County).

Credit: Reporter News

Combined ShapeCaption
Lane Southern Orchards packinghouse, Fort Valley, GA (Peach County).

Credit: Reporter News

Credit: Reporter News

Peach season will end around mid-August, but the packinghouses stay open year-round offering other seasonal fruits and vegetables — pecans, strawberries, blueberries, peanuts, and on and on.

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Credit: Reporter Newspapers

Reporter Newspapers Logo

Credit: Reporter Newspapers

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Credit: Reporter Newspapers

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