Recap “Peach Season 2023”

August 25, 2023

As quickly and mysteriously as the season came, it went away. Every year is different, and 2023 was no average season. Due to early chilling fulfillment from critical December and January temperatures, as soon as it warmed up, the trees were in bloom. In the upstate, we ended up with the farm in full bloom in mid February! This is about a month early- YIKES!

Needless to say, we were anxious about how this would be affected by late frosts, and consequently the fruit set. Although we did notice light/no crop on several of our earliest varieties with estimates around the state revealing only a mere 30% of full production,  we still had a bountiful year in the research and tasty peach eating.  

As we expected, the season came in hot and heavy. We were harvesting peaches anywhere from 3-5 weeks earlier than previous seasons, leading to unprecedented early harvest of our mid-season staple variety, ‘Julyprince’ in June! The season typically stretches into September, but now at the end of August, we have finished harvesting the last major research blocks. 

It is a bitter sweet time for all of us, as the whirlwind of the season, the busyness of rushing around to evaluate the queen of fruits, always monitoring, carefully caring, and chasing after the unique, tender, juicy, tangy balance of sugary goodness that with its highly perishable characteristics, cant wait for no one. Every year in May, I look down at the first peach and taste the promise of the season and the bigger, better, sweeter peaches to come, and when I look up, its the last harvest of the year.

Time is a funny thing. Summers always went by too fast as a child, but it seems they still do. We prepare all year for the season, develop new research projects, create new orchards, pruning, fertilizing, but when it finally arrives, with all its anticipation and expectations, its over in a flash. A few hot months that fly by, leaving us fatigued but with a sense of accomplishment. Our hearts are full of joy, bellies are full of peaches, and computers full of data. 

Beautiful sunset colors
2023 National Association of Plant Breeders- Hosted by Clemson University, tour the Musser Fruit Research Farm with Dr. Gasic explaining the peach breeding program.

2023 National Association of Plant Breeders- Hosted by Clemson University, tour the Musser Fruit Research Farm with John Mark Lawton cutting fruit for a variety taste test
Groundhog? More like peachhog! Who knew they could climb!? It gave me a scare when I was harvesting, I sure wasn’t expecting to meet a large rodent at eye level!