If you’re from the south, chances are you know summer as the season for a seemingly endless supply of peaches. Peaches are such a part of Georgia that streets and schools bear their name, while the license plate and even ‘I voted’ stickers are adorned with their image.
But growers say a massive shortage is in store for this year’s Southern crop.
An ill-timed three-day freeze in March paired with an unseasonably warm winter has wiped out much of the Deep South’s peach crop. The already finicky fruit trees were so confused by the weather that many didn’t bear any fruit at all, leading some experts to estimate the production in Georgia will reach only about a quarter of what it was in 2016, when the state produced 43,000 tons of peaches.
South Carolina is the country’s number two peach producing state — after California — but its production numbers are looking just as bad.
According to the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, 85 to 90 percent of the state’s crop is gone.
California might be the nation’s best shot at peach pie this summer. The number one peach producing state is expected to yield 625,000 tons of peaches for the summer of 2017. Even Massachusetts and New Jersey are expected to see heartier crop than Georgia this year.
But for those raised on the sweet peaches ripened in the Southern heat, the stand-ins are hardly a consolation. To get the real deal, you’ll have to have to visit Georgia and South Carolina since most of the crop will stay in-state this year at grocers and road-side-stands, foregoing the shipping costs and production that usually occurs when the excess crop is plentiful.
So the good news is that some Southern peaches are still available — you just have to have a sweet Southern friend who is willing to share.
(h/t The New York Times)