A lot goes into buying the perfect peach, from picking the right color to feeling its consistency. Another consideration is where the peach was grown. While China and the European Union are the top peach-producing regions, those who have tried one know that Georgia peaches are the best you can find.
Georgia peaches are both a crop and a cultural icon. Travel just about anywhere in Georgia and you’ll see peaches on road signs, car tags and t-shirts. The state is well-known for the quality of its peaches — the peach is even its state fruit. But what makes Georgia peaches the best-tasting peaches in the world? Learn more about these mouthwatering fruits and why Georgia grows them best.
What Makes a Good Peach?
A good peach is perfectly ripe and sweet, with juice that drips down your chin. Every year during peak peach season, peach lovers go on the hunt for the perfect mix of sun-ripened sweetness and rich, juicy flesh. Whether you’re in the supermarket or at a local fruit stand, here’s how to identify a ripe peach:
Appearance: A peach’s skin is one of the first things to inspect when looking for the perfect fruit. Ripe yellow peaches should have a deep golden shade, while white peaches will be a creamier yellow color. A peach with any green on it isn’t ready for eating. Peaches with bruising or wrinkles on their skin are overripe.
Smell: Go ahead, take a sniff — a good peach should have a noticeably sweet and fruity scent. If you don’t notice any pleasant aroma, the peach probably needs a few more days to ripen.
Touch: Another hallmark characteristic of a good peach is how it feels in your hand. Fully ripe peaches are slightly soft to the touch and will “give” a bit when you squeeze them gently. Peaches that are too hard or too mushy won’t give you that satisfying peach texture.
Why Is Georgia Known for Peaches?
Georgia is renowned for high-quality peaches with superior taste and appearance. Thousands of people around the country head to the state’s orchards during peach season. According to the University of Georgia, the state produces more than 130 million pounds of peaches each year. Yet today, Georgia is only the third largest peach-producing state in the U.S. So how did Georgia become renowned for this juicy fruit and gain the title “the Peach State?”
Georgia’s connection with peaches began before it even became a state. Peaches first came to the region in the 16th century when Franciscan monks brought the fruit to Cumberland and St. Simons islands. The Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee cultivated peaches by the mid-1700s, and other farmers soon followed suit.
Peach production in Georgia escalated after the Civil War. Advancements in shipping, transportation and production methods fueled an explosion of growth in the Georgia peach market. During this time, Georgia earned its nickname, “the Peach State.”
Why Georgia Peaches Are the Best
Several factors combine to make Georgia peaches the best you can buy. Here are some of the reasons why Georgia produces the tastiest peaches:
1. Georgia’s Weather
Like other southern states, Georgia’s weather is hot and humid for much of the year. This climate is ideal for peaches, which grow best in Zones 6 to 8. These zones are best because peach trees need full sun exposure throughout the day. The trees are also susceptible to cold and frost, so colder regions aren’t ideal for this crop.
Georgia’s weather provides the temperatures and humidity needed for peach trees to thrive. Georgia’s central and southern areas grow peaches commercially. The central area, which includes Crawford, Peach, Taylor and Macon counties, is responsible for 75% of the state’s peach production. This area provides protection from the cold while ensuring an earlier harvest. The climate in these counties can yield peaches ready to harvest around mid-May.
While much about Georgia’s environment is friendly to the fruit, peach growers also have several obstacles to face. Peach trees are vulnerable to unexpected low temperatures and pests that like to feed on stone fruits can significantly diminish a crop. Overcoming these challenges to produce beautiful, tasty peaches is an annual battle for peach farmers.
2. Georgia’s Soil
Another reason why Georgia produces the best-tasting peaches in the world is its soil. Peaches don’t thrive in tightly compacted or wet soil and need a specific type of soil to grow well. Well-drained, slightly acidic soil provides the best environment for peach trees.
The central region of Georgia is home to multiple types of fertile soils. This region has loam soil composed of sand, silt and clay, providing the drainage and nutrients ideal for peach production. Some other soil types throughout Georgia, like sand and heavy clay, make peach growing more difficult. Georgia is also known for its red clay soil, which contains organic matter that prevents the soil from compacting and helps peaches grow.
3. Georgia Peaches Are Melters
Peach flesh comes in two varieties — melting and non-melting. A melting peach tends to ripen quickly and get softer over time. When you buy a peach to eat or cook with, you want a melter. These peaches feel like they melt in your mouth and provide the juiciness that’s the hallmark of a fresh Georgia peach. In contrast, non-melting varieties remain firmer for much longer. These peaches are ideal for canning and preserving. The jars of peaches swimming in syrup in your grocery store are non-melter peaches.
Georgia produces several melter peach varieties. These peaches are silky-smooth and a delight to eat baked in a pie or right off the branch. Maintaining a short time between harvesting and eating peaches allows you to enjoy them at their peak ripeness. You’ll get the perfect combination of texture, flavor and juice.
Shop Delicious Georgia Peaches From Lane Southern Orchards
With a history of cultivation and a climate perfect for production, Georgia grows the best peaches in the country. If you’re looking for a perfectly sweet and succulent summer fruit, pick a Georgia peach. If you want the best Georgia peach, visit Lane Southern Orchards.
We’ve been growing Georgia peaches since 1908 and are now the largest grower of peaches and pecans in the U.S. We are passionate about bringing the best peaches in Georgia from our farm to your table. We also have a wide selection of products, from peaches and pecans to preserves, syrups, salsas and more.