All Things Peach
Posted on May 7, 2018.
After years of speaking with customers and answering numerous questions about peach varieties, we came to the conclusion that the only way to truly understand the difference is to experience each peach variety first hand. Since color, texture, and taste change throughout the season from one variety to the next, finding a way to share the whole peach experience proved tricky. Those of us in the business know which varieties to wait for and we all have our favorites. Some might call us “peach snobs,” but we prefer “peach aficionado.” Really, we’re just huge peach fans. We want to invite you to join us as peach connoisseurs by taking this journey down the Pearson Prince Peach Path.
What’s that saying, “Variety is the Spice of Life”? Well that holds true with everything it seems, including peaches. Did you know there are more than 2000 peach varieties grown throughout the world? That’s a lot to choose from, so you might wonder why there are so many, what makes each one different, and how farmers choose which varieties to grow. To answer these questions, we decided to enlist the help of some peachy experts. We are fortunate enough to have the two best experts in the field within a short drive of the Farm, and we had to start with Mr. Peach himself, Will McGehee. Will is the founding partner of Genuine Georgia. He eats, sleeps, breathes, but more importantly, sells all our Pearson Farm peaches. He knows everything there is to know about selling peaches, and I mean EVERYTHING! It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a Pearson and has grown up here on the Farm. We’ve cultivated hundreds of varieties over our 135 years, but today we only produce 50 with many bearing the Prince name. Will helped us choose the 6 most interesting Prince varieties to include in our Pearson Prince Subscription. These 6 boxes will offer an assortment of colors, flavors, and textures to arrive on your doorstep every week from June 11-July 23. You’ll get to experience different sizes of peaches, peaches shaped like hearts, and maybe even a few the size of softballs. We want you to see the meaning of “blush on yellow background,” chartreuse peelings, and decide for yourself which peach is referred to as a ‘supermodel.” We know you’ll learn the true difference between clingstone and freestone and maybe decide that the peaches that hold onto their pits aren’t that bad after all. Our true desire is for you to experience every wonderful, sweet, juicy thing you can about peaches in 6 short weeks and join us in our own little exclusive peach club.
To become a true “peach expert,” you’ll need a little history lesson in peach varieties, and for that we went to Dr. Dick Okie. He spent more than 30 years as a stone fruit breeder at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service up the road from the Farm. He tells us that back in the 1930’s, the farmers in this area were experiencing problems with their peach crops. They needed new varieties that would flourish in our soil and climate, and trees that would be resistant to the diseases that were wreaking havoc on their crops. Peach growers wanted firm fruit that could be shipped outside of Georgia and trees hearty enough to extend the season. They hoped these issues could be addressed by the new breeding program that was just getting started. John Weinberger was hired in 1937 as the first breeder at the Peach County office. Believe me when I tell you, tree breeding is a long process. Mr. Weinberger dedicated almost 20 years to the Fort Valley station, developing the foundation for a successful peach breeding program. Victor Prince came on board as his successor in 1955. Mr. Prince worked tirelessly for 25 years, adding his knowledge and experience to work previously started and refused to retire until his replacement, Dr. Dick Okie, was hired in 1980. With the combined efforts of his work and the work of his two predecessors, Dr. Okie was able to release the first Prince variety in 1981…. 50 years after the breeding program started! The science of tree breeding is more advanced than I could ever understand much less communicate, but the idea of 3 men and 80+ combined years of research is easy to define…. It’s called work ethic, and Pearson Farm was fortunate to be right here where all their hard work took place. We were even asked to test a few breeds on our Farm, which made it feel like these gentlemen were breeding peaches specifically for us.
The names of all the varieties was most intriguing to me. I learned that new varieties don’t receive their names until they are released for nursery production. Until that time, they are only identified by a series of letters and numbers. Doesn’t that sound so official, and something you might hear in a science fiction movie? I can almost hear the breeders saying, “BY87P944 has cropped well when chilling has been adequate,” or “BY92P7810 is a highly colored selection with excellent eating quality.” Since Dr. Okie was the breeder of record at the time the Prince varieties were released, he was bestowed the honor of giving them their names. He laughed when he told me that there is no real science to the naming process, but he did feel that brand identification was important for these new varieties. He chose to give them all a double name with the last name being “Prince” as a way of paying tribute to his predecessor, Victor Prince. The first names I learned were chosen for a variety of reasons. For instance, SPRINGPRINCE was named because it is harvested in the Spring, and RUBYPRINCE because of its mostly red color. I found the most interesting to be FLAMEPRINCE whose name was chosen because its first commercial harvest date coincided with the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia. Even though Mr. Al once told Dr. Okie, “Dick, there are too many Prince varieties,” we are so glad that he released 15 in the Prince series and proudly grow 11 of them today at Pearson Farm.
So now that we’ve increased your peach IQ, let’s see if we can expand your peach palate by inviting you to join us on this peach adventure. The season is quickly approaching, and the Prince Subscriptions will only be offered for a limited time, so make sure to place your orders early. We want your opinion of every box you receive, and we are excited to hear your comments. We’ll be honored to add you to our list of peachy professionals, and we can’t wait to follow your journey down the Pearson Prince Peach Path.
Posted on April 25, 2018.
If I've heard him say it once, I've heard him say it 100 times, "old men don't grow peaches." After years like 2017 and weeks like the last two, it's easy to understand why Mr. Al says it. Restless days and sleepless nights spent worrying about freezing temps and frost will turn even a young man's hair gray. We have been fortunate to receive plenty of chill hours to make a good crop of peaches but the last 2 week's weather forecasts have put the crop in danger. Lawton and the other peach farmers around here have spent the last 2 weeks combining the science of modern farming, the tried and true techniques of their forefathers, and a lot of time on their knees in prayer.
Peaches are a difficult crop to grow due to many factors out of farmers control, so we do our best to prepare for these events with a long term approach that encompasses everything from carefully selecting sites for new orchards to planting trees in areas of orchards not prone to frost accumulation. At one time, there were over 50 peach farms in or around Peach county. Today, there are only 5, and while the work is hard on body and soul, we know how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to plant trees and grow delicious peaches and pecans. We feel it is our responsibility to continue what our family started all those years ago.
While a few hours of frost and temps that dipped lower than we like have left their mark, we are tickled about the 2018 crop. We ask that you keep Pearson Farm in your prayers as we make our way through the last week of Winter and first few weeks of Spring continuing to farm our sweet Georgia peaches
Posted on April 25, 2018.
How much sleep do you need?? That always seems to be the question when it comes to raising children. Adults even keep track of our sleep patterns, as we strive to lead healthier lives. Last year when our peaches didn't get enough cold hours, I heard someone say, “It’s not time for them to wake up yet. They still need more sleep!!” I remember thinking, what an interesting analogy to imagine that these little trees need sleep and rest just like we do. But as I pondered that comparison, the more it made perfect sense. We rest, recover, grow, and refresh during sleep, so why wouldn’t these little trees that grow leaves, buds, and fruit need that kind of downtime as well? Their “night” is the months of November, December, January, and February. We want them to sleep deeply when the temperatures are cold, the days are short, and the nights are drawn out and dark. And just like we need long stretches of good hard sleep, the peach trees need to have undisturbed rest as well. If cold winter days are interrupted with periods of warm weather, the trees get confused and think it's time to wake up. In much the same way that we perform poorly without enough sleep, peach trees are unable to produce good quality fruit if they suffer from lack of rest.
We are very grateful that our little peach trees are being allowed to slumber in the quiet, cool, tranquil moments of winter. We hope they are dreaming sweet thoughts of cobbler, preserves, and ice cream, and that they continue to enjoy their last few weeks of respite.
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” John Steinbeck
Posted on April 25, 2018.
Mr. Al came by my office early this week and said he’d like for me to write my post about buttons. I’ll be honest with ya’ll, I didn’t know what he was talking about…. They call Lawton’s son Sutton, “button” sometimes, so I thought maybe he had a story he wanted to tell me about that little cutie, but unfortunately, that was not the button he was speaking of. Later that day, he came back in and brought a handful of these little tiny peaches and asked me to take a picture. I knew then this wasn’t going to be a story I could use phrases like “cute as a button” or “you bet your buttons” or my favorite, “don’t touch the button.”
A peach button happens when growing fruit lacks pollination and in turn, doesn’t mature. In essence, the tree blooms, but sadly, the bloom wasn’t destined to become a peach. During harvest, these buttons are so small there is no reason to pick them, but leaving them on the tree means danger for next year’s crop. If you leave them hanging, they will form brown rot and turn into what is called a “mummy” that stays on the tree. This brown rot is protected inside the mummy during the winter months and once spring arrives, it will start growing and infect the tree. Some peach varieties button more than others, and seasons that experience abnormal growing conditions will produce more buttons than normal. Having to deal with these little boogers is nothing new, but we have our work cut out for us this time. The process is time consuming and expensive but money saving in the end.
This week we began the laborious job of “de-buttoning” the trees. We believe that a clean orchard will produce clean fruit, so we will spend the next few weeks picking, knocking off and in some instances cutting buttons from MANY of our sweet little peach trees. We will be conducting what Mr. Al likes to call, orchard maintenance, so we can prepare as best we can, these trees for the 2018 season.
One of my favorite all time movies is FACING THE GIANTS, and the exchange between Coach Taylor and Mr. Bridges is possibly one of my favorite scenes. If you haven’t seen it, Coach Taylor is the football coach for a school whose team is having a difficult season, and Mr. Bridges is a gentleman who has been praying for the school for years. He feels led by God to come and share a word with Coach Taylor and proceeds to tell the following story:
“There were 2 farmers who desperately needed rain. Both of them prayed for rain but only one of them went out and prepared his fields to receive it. Which one do you think trusted God to send the rain?” Coach Taylor responded with, “Well the one who prepared his fields for it?” Mr. Bridges then said, “Which one are you? God will send the rain when He is ready. It is your job to prepare your field to receive it.”
Pearson Farm has been blessed beyond measure despite the challenges we faced with this year’s peach crop. We will continue to follow our motto… Dum Spiro Spero- While I breathe I Hope, as we close out this peach season, and just like the farmer in Mr. Bridges story, we are already praying for next year’s crop, and we are preparing our fields for rain.……
Philemon 22: And one thing more: prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers. (NIV)
Posted on April 25, 2018.
People, Preserves, Progress and Peaches are words that have been uttered over and over again this week.
People have been filling our parking lot and rocking chairs daily. Many of these People are locals who just drop in for an afternoon snack of delicious peach or butter pecan ice cream while others have driven out to purchase our Pearson Farm peaches to put in their freezers to savor throughout the year. The last two weeks we have greeted People from Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Minnesota. We have enjoyed meeting each of you and appreciate all the wonderful comments you have left in our guest book. Especially, the family from Davenport, Washington who wrote, “Well worth the looong drive!!”
Preserves have been on the menu in the kitchen this week. We only make our delicious preserves with fresh peaches and since they are in short supply and going quickly we are working overtime to get enough made to last until next season. Maria and her crew have been peeling, slicing, stirring, and pouring jars and jars of our delightful peach preserves.
Progress is the word we are using to describe our upcoming expansion plans…. Every pad of concrete poured, steel beam erected, and electrical switch installed brings us closer to moving our mail order and shipping department into a newly renovated and expanded home. We will keep you posted on the continued Progress, so stay tuned…….
Peaches, obviously, because we are in the final days of the season. “Do you still have Peaches ……? Are you still shipping Peaches .….? How much longer will you have Peaches ……? are questions we have answered many times. We’ve even asked these same questions ourselves and Lawton and Mr. Al have been able to provide us with enough Peaches every day to get us through the week. The final picking will happen on Monday so we hope to have plenty of peaches to get us through next week. We will close out the season with Flame Prince. And let me just say….. they are DELICIOUS!!! We will be sad to see them go but go they will, so make plans to come see us next week to get the last of the 2017 sweet, juicy, Pearson Farm Peaches!!!
Posted on April 25, 2018.
For years, we have been filling bins, hauling wagons and dumping peaches onto the belts of the packing house here at Pearson Farm. The days start with the rising sun in dew covered orchards and don’t end until well after the sun has set. These long days are full of fuzzy, sweet peaches that are picked for our customers and shipped all over the great US of A. We start harvesting the first few weeks in May and run full steam right on into August, but not this year…….. next week, we will dump the final bin of peaches for the 2017 season. The last days for running peaches are always filled with a variety of emotions. For the workers who spend hours picking, grading, box making, and loading trucks, it’s Excitement. Many of these folks have been away from their families since the beginning of the year and will finally make that trek back home. For Will and his crew at Genuine Georgia (they’re the folks who work so hard to sell our peaches), Accomplishment is the name of the game as that last bin is dropped. The coordination needed to grow a crop of peaches, nurture them to maturity, then pick, pack, and ship them to our customers is amazing. When that last peach rolls off the belt into a box, it is that sense of accomplishment that allows them to say, “We did it!” For Mr. Al and Lawton, it’s Relief…… Relief that nothing else can happen to the crop. They won’t have to worry about hail, bugs, disease, rain, etc (for a few weeks at least). Relief that all these wonderful people we have been hosting here on the Farm, will now be able to return home to their families. As that last bin is dropped, they will both draw a long, deep breath…… As great as all these emotions are, I believe there is another that is felt more strongly and experienced by everyone here at the Farm this year and that is Gratitude. We are so thankful to have been able to harvest 18% of a crop! There were a couple weeks in early spring, we thought we might not have a single peach. We were blessed with good quality fruit and have been intrigued and entertained with the different sizes and shapes. We are appreciative that the circumstances of this year’s crop allowed us to have wonderful conversations with our customers who called or visited us here at Farm. We are thankful for John Short @georgiaproudprovisions and your crew that tirelessly staff the Farmers Markets in Atlanta with our Pearson Farm peaches and pecans. Thank you also to The Peach Truck and Tree-Ripe Citrus Co. for your annual tours to carry Pearson Farm peaches and pecans to customers who otherwise might not get to taste our sweet Georgia peaches. We are very grateful for your dedication and love for Pearson Farm. And finally, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all our customers!!! We appreciate each and every one of you and hope to see you in the fall for pecans.
As this season draws to an end, we are reminded of the motto Mr. Al adopted for us back in March, “Dum Spiro Spero…. While I breathe, I HOPE”. We have faithfully trusted that God would guide us through the difficulties of this season and provide….…..and we are grateful that he has done just that!
“And so, Lord, where do I put my HOPE? My only HOPE is in you….. Psalm 39:7”
PS….. Mr. Al and Lawton are saving enough bins from this final run to hopefully keep the Farm Store stocked with peaches through the end of the month. Please continue to visit us but make sure you call first.
Posted on April 25, 2018.
Peaches, Boxes, Green Foam, Strapper, Boxes, Peaches, Corporate Customers, Boxes, Cakes, Labels, Brown trucks and trailers, Preserves, Peaches, and oh did I mention, BOXES..... This week has been all about shipping the precious few sweet, juicy, Pearson Farm peaches we have this season. Suffice it to say, when you have to ship all your corporate orders along with your regular peach orders in a 2-week span, life can get a little crazy!!
Just as we are grateful for every single one of these sweet, fuzzy peaches, we are thankful for all of our customers!! We appreciate your patience and understanding of the challenges we have faced this season. We are much obliged for the prayers you have offered and the wonderful conversations we have shared with you over the phone and in the store. But mostly, we are overwhelmed with your support of our beloved Pearson Farm. To all our returning customers, thanks so much, it's been great hearing from you all this year and to our new customers..... Welcome to the "FAMILY"!!
Posted on May 18, 2017.
Pearson Farm is getting their operations ready for this year’s peach season. So, before the season gets underway, we thought it would be fun to show you the journey that a Pearson Farm Peach takes from pick to pack.
In the video below, Al Pearson documents this journey. We follow peaches from the tree to the time when they are ready for you to take them home. Mr. Pearson also covers a little bit of Pearson Farm family history along the way.
Click on this link or the image above - https://youtu.be/eFuNbJiXB34
To get your family fresh Pearson Farm Peaches as well as a host of other farm favorites, please visit www.PearsonFarm.com .
Posted on June 14, 2016.
For those of you who have been anxiously awaiting peach season, you are in luck. Starting this week Pearson Farm starts shipping this year’s fresh and delicious peach crop Now you can finally order Fresh Georgia grown peaches from Pearson Farm and have them shipped right to your door. They say that money can’t buy happiness, but when you get a taste of our juicy peaches, you will think it’s the same thing.
Peaches have become a summer favorite a staple at BBQ’s and family events, delicious in salads, on pizzas or blended into creamy ice cream to stifle the summer heat. Make sure you’re using the best peaches available from Pearson Farm.
The Pearson family has been growing Peaches for over 130 years and knows a thing or two about quality. Pearson knows how to deliver the very best directly from our family’s farm to your table. Our Peaches are handpicked, packaged and shipped ensuring peak freshness, quality and flavor arrives within 48 hours. Culinary experts from all across the country consider Pearson Farm as their go-to preferred peaches. Now you can too. Peach shipping started June 13th meaning happiness can arrive fresh at your door as early as June 15th!