Everything’s just peachy: Local apple, peach crops looking good

Harold "Ed" Paugh, owner of Paugh's Orchard in Quicksburg, holds a peach that has been picked outside his farm. Paugh said he is pleased with this year's harvest. Rich Cooley/Daily

At this time last year, Virginia’s peach farmers were struggling.

The 2016 crop, which had been hit by two hard freezes in the early spring,  “was rated mostly fair to very poor,” Herman Ellison, a state statistician with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, explained in a news release last year. Because of those frosts, the peach crop totaled 3,900 tons, down more than 20 percent from 2015.

Harold “Ed” Paugh, owner of Paugh’s Orchard, 5591 Senedo Road, Quicksburg, said this year’s crop has been abundant due to ideal weather conditions for growers.

“This year, we have an excellent peach crop, much better than last year,” Paugh said. “The peach and apple crop, as of right now, looks real good. A few other people I’ve talked to, they say they have an excellent crop, too. Last year, we got froze out, but this spring, we did not get a freeze and the trees are loaded.”

The USDA notes in a recent news release: “Plenty of rain this spring was good for the trees, and drier conditions in June and July were perfect for bringing out the fruit’s sugar to develop a sweet-tasting peach.”

Peaches are available at area markets. Rich Cooley/Daily

Luckily, for buyers, Virginia’s peach season just started. Growers are seeing their early varieties ripen and are expecting the high crop quantity to last through September.

Pick Some Peaches

Visit the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website, “http://tinyurl.com/447qyws”>http://tinyurl.com/447qyws, to find “you pick” orchards where peaches are available fresh off the tree.

Harold "Ed" Paugh looks over his peach crop. He started picking peaches the first week of July. Rich Cooley/Daily