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Hail damages peach crop

August 11, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

LEITERSBURG - John R. Martin's peach crop flourished with this season's dry weather, but one day of hail caused widespread crop destruction, he said.

Martin plucked pock-marked peaches from a "seconds" basket behind his stand Saturday at the Leitersburg Peach Festival. The ice cube-sized hail that pelted his orchard on June 27 - affecting 75 percent of his crop - left vivid reminders.

The hail ripped large chunks of fruit from the seed, leaving long scars and holes on peaches that are now sold at half-price for pies and other baked treats, Martin said.

Most people don't want to buy scarred fruit, he said, and orchard workers have spent countless hours separating the hail-struck peaches from those which escaped the fluke storm.

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Both the blemished and the perfect fruit share an especially sweet flavor due to the heavy sunshine and lack of rainfall this growing season, Martin said.

Sunlight fuels the process of photosynthesis, which makes fruit sweet, Martin said. The sugar in the fruit is less diluted when it doesn't rain, he said.

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