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Plentiful Peach Harvest Expected in South Carolina

(April 8, 2010)—With winter having played nice with crops this year, the peach supply in the early weeks of spring is expected to be both plentiful and of high quality, growers and experts say. That means peach lovers should have no trouble finding a good piece of juicy fruit as the bloom boom continues.

"It's going to be a buyer's market," said Andy Rollins, a fruit and vegetable agent with the Clemson Extension Service.

York County historically ranks in the top 10 in South Carolina in peach production, and local farms already have dozens of varieties in bloom.

But growers are cautious, despite a good start, a good crop can be wiped away overnight with a late-spring frost or hail storm.

Another factor in the early abundance of fruit are unseasonably warm temperatures in recent weeks that have caused some varieties to bloom early. But what's good news for buyers isn't necessarily welcomed by growers, as some feel the abundance of peaches could lead to an oversaturated market - and lower revenues.

South Carolina is the nation's second-largest peach producer, behind California.

Rollins, the Clemson Extension agent, said that from a business standpoint, there's reason for farmers to be concerned about having too much supply.

Essentially, each year's peach crop is a gamble for farmers, he said.

"Every year they're spending huge amounts of money on hopes that they'll be able to sell their crops," Rollins said.

For now, local farmers say the situation is something to think about, not worry about.

Arthur Black, owner of Black's Peaches & Cotton Belt Bakery in York, said he still believes crops will sell well locally, despite increased competition.

"It'll probably work itself out," said Black, in the peach business for 40 years.

"It'll just be something we'll have to work through."

Edwards, the Fort Mill peach farmer, said he's also a bit concerned but that conditions have conspired before to produce an abundance of crop

"I'd rather have too many than not any," he said.

Other growers are worried about the potential of over abundant supply, compounded with the current econimical situation. Read more from this perspective with a video on FreshPlaza.com.

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