Record peach harvest could be in the works

Saturday, July 24, 2010 | 8:07 p.m. CDT
Beverly Lewis, center, buys peaches from Brad Toellner, left, and his mother Sharron, right, of Bell Fruit Farm on Saturday at the Boone County Farmers Market. "Well, I eat over the kitchen sink and let the juice dribble down my chin," Lewis said. "It really is the best way to eat a peach."

BOONVILLE — The smell of fresh peaches lingered over the 10-pound boxes on the porch of a small cabin just off Highway 98.

"We need some peaches," said Marilyn Fletcher as she and her husband approached the cabin, which is part of Peach Tree Farm.


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“Well, we’ve got them,” responded Dewayne Murray, who was manning the stand.

That might be an understatement. Peach Tree owner Bruce Arnette is experiencing a bumper crop of peaches this season. He said that in his 21 years of orchard ownership, this is the largest crop he can remember.

"The morning is a frenzy of people that are worried about not getting peaches, which is not the case this year," Arnette said

Arnette said his workers have been harvesting between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds of peaches per day. Last season, they were harvesting between 1,300 and 1,400 pounds per day.

"This doesn't happen often, and probably won't for another 20 years," Arnette said, attributing the combination of rain and hot weather as the reason the peaches are ripening faster.

The orchard at Peach Tree Farm has about 2,200 peach trees in 20 varieties. The different varieties ripen at different rates, which allows the farm to harvest peaches from late June through late August.

Demand looks to be high. Arnette said that even with the large crop, the orchard still sells out on weekends.

At the Boone County Farmers Market on Saturday, Brad and Sharron Toellner of Boonville brought peaches from their own orchard to sell. Brad Toellner said that this season looks to produce a sizable crop.

Boxes of peaches started to disappear from the back of their pickup truck soon after the market opened at 8 a.m., and the Toellners said they expected to sell out of what they brought to that morning’s farmers market.

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