Summertime is peach time in Middle Georgia and throughout the state. Peach County, Georgia, just south of Macon, is the heart of Georgia’s peach industry. Throughout the area travelers will see large peach orchards, small roadside stands, and large commercial operations.
According to the Georgia Peach Council, annual peach production in the state is approximately 2.6 million bushels annually with more than 40 varieties of peaches grown. Georgia grows clingstone, semi-freestone, and freestone peach varieties. These names indicate whether or not the peach meat “clings” or remains “free” from the pit, or stone.
Franciscan monks introduced peaches to coastal Georgia in 1571. Raphael Moses, a Confederate officer from Columbus, Georgia, is credited as the first person to successfully distribute peaches outside the South. However, it was Samuel Rumph and his Elberta variety peach – named after his wife – which revolutionized the industry due to its superior quality and durability during shipping.
Peak peach season is mid-May through August. Peaches are nutrient-rich, freeze and can easily, and can be incorporated into cakes, pies, breads, sauces, and more. In Middle Georgia, four large farms allow visitors to purchase peaches directly, tour packing facilities, and even enjoy lunch (and a peach dessert!) on-site.
Lane Southern Orchards in Ft. Valley welcomes 300,000 visitors annually. Its proximity to I-75 makes it a convenient stop for out of state travelers. The farm offers tours, up-close viewing of the packing facility, year-round activities, and large gift shop. Its Peachtree Café is popular for lunch or an afternoon peach sweet.
Dickey Farms is Georgia’s oldest, continuously operating peach packing house. Located in Musella, the Dickey family continues to operate the farm and retail operations. Visitors to the facility may enjoy homemade peach ice cream and relaxing on the front porch in one of the numerous rocking chairs.
The Pearson family operates Pearson Farm in Ft. Valley. The packing house is open to the public during peak season. Peaches and ice cream critically-acclaimed by Southern Living magazine may be enjoyed on-site or at home. Pearson’s offers gift baskets as well as well as fresh pecans in the fall.
Taylor Orchards in Reynolds offers peaches and strawberries. Shoppers will find a variety of gifts and treats at the farm store.
To learn more about peaches, peach recipes, and peach facts, visit the Georgia Peach Council’s website or visit a local peach farm.