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Peach crop ahead of schedule

August 09, 1998

Peacha crop ahead of scheduleBy LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer [enlarge]




Get them while you can, because this year's peach season is expected to end as early as it arrived.

Mainly due to an early spring, the first peaches came in about two weeks ahead of schedule. So it could be hard to find the locally grown fruit by the end of the month, local orchardists said.

"I don't think there'll be any around here by Labor Day," said Don Harding of Hardings' Orchard on Harbaugh Church Road.

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This year's peaches have good flavor and size. Harvests are coming in between 75 percent and 100 percent of full crop, said the orchardists, most of whom are located in the Smithsburg-Leitersburg area.

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"It was just a good year for growing," said Sam Cool of Cool's Farm on Edgemont Road.

"They've been selling faster than we can pick 'em," said Henry Allenberg of Mountain Spring Orchard north of Smithsburg.

Although the trees bloomed early, the fragile buds were not nipped by frost, as they have been in past years.

"Thank the good Lord we had no hail this year," said Nevin Lewis of Lewis' Orchards in Cavetown.

During the first half of May, when it rained every day, some of the buds got knocked off, said J.D. Rinehart of Rinehart Orchards near Ringgold. But that actually saved Rinehart the trouble of thinning out the trees by hand, which is done to protect the size of the peaches.

"We were very fortunate to have the peach crop we did," he said.

In some red haven peaches, the wet and cool spring caused the seeds to split. But that doesn't hurt the peaches' taste or edibility, said orchardist Ben Clopper of Smithsburg.

The early season could be a boon, giving orchardists two more weeks to sell apples, which are also coming in early and can be stored longer, Harding said.

But it might be a problem for apple processors if they are not prepared for the early crop of apples, Cool said.

The orchardists also have their eyes on the skies and are looking for rain.

Although the recent dry spell came late enough not to hurt the size of the peaches, it still threatens to keep apples smaller, Clopper said.

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