The uniqueness of the South Carolina peach
South Carolina has a long, storied history with the peach, with records going back as far as the 1600s for peaches grown in the state.
While Georgia may be more associated with the peach, South Carolina outpaces its southern neighbor in production, growing 90,0000 tons a year compared to 40,000 for Georgia, according to the USDA.
Overall, there are approximately 15,000 acres of peach orchards in South Carolina and the numbers have remained steady over the last decade.
The South Carolina Peach Council, based in Columbia, SC, is an association of growers, packers, researchers, allied industry, and produce buyers who seek to protect and advance the production and marketing of peaches in South Carolina.
“South Carolina is consistently the leading peach-producing state in the Eastern U.S., growing more peaches most years than any state besides California,” said Ginny Gohagan, SC Peach Council’s executive director and SCDA marketing specialist. “With more than 15,000 total acres of peach orchards, we’re able to supply consumers with peaches all season.”
Early estimates for the 2022 peach season are strong and people all over the state are looking forward to peaches finally hitting the shelves.
“The outlook for this season is good and we can’t wait for South Carolina peaches to hit the farmers’ markets, retail stores, and farm stands in the upcoming months,” Gohagan said. “We did have a freeze event in March that did some damage to earlier varieties. While volume may be lighter than normal in May due to the damage, mid to later varieties didn’t get hit as hard and we’re expecting to be back up to normal production volume for the rest of the season.”
South Carolina peaches are such a hit for consumers because of their sweetness and excellent flavor and taste, the SC Peach Council noted.
“With South Carolina’s slightly acidic soils, hot days, humid nights, and plenty of chill hours each winter, our state is ideally suited for growing peaches and allows our growers to offer consumers flavorful and nutrient-packed fruit,” Gohagan said. “Our location also means lower transportation costs for shipping across the Eastern U.S., which allows for more convenience for buyers and fresher, tastier peaches for consumers.”
Like all farmers in the United States, South Carolina’s peach growers are also facing higher than normal input costs and supply chain issues and must work around these issues to continue to provide the peaches that are so heavily in demand.
Those aren’t the only issues. “We’ve also seen some specialty crop exports being pushed back into the domestic market as a result of the trade war with China that started in 2018,” Gohagan said. “We see a lot of these crops we compete with being pushed back in during prime peach season. So, a concern we have is maintaining our competitiveness in the market each year.”
Still, there’s nothing quite as tasty as a South Carolina peach and consumers are sure to be flocking to them once the season officially begins.
“We’re hopeful that this season people choose to buy peaches to evoke that sweet summer feeling in the upcoming months,” Gohagan said.