Just Peachy: Virginia peaches are safe from reported Southern shortage

After a spring fraught with freezes, reports show a couple Southern states have lost 80 percent of their peach crop this year.

Photo courtesy of Ivonne Wierink/Adobe Stock

Southern summers might be a little less sweet this year due to the peach shortage in South Carolina and Georgia reported by the New York Times, but Virginians won’t have to worry about losing the summer staple fruit.

“This will probably be our best season in about three or four years,” says Bill Mackintosh, co-owner of Mackintosh Fruit Farms. “We’ll probably yield about 80 percent of our crop.”

Mackintosh, who owns 5 of his own acres of peaches and consults on 800 acres across the state of Virginia, is very optimistic about the state’s peaches this year. He predicts that, on the farms he consults with in the Winchester area, the yield should be almost the entire peach crop, and between 80 and 90 percent of the crop in Central Virginia orchards should be available for harvest.

“Everyone put up a good fight,” says Mackintosh about local peach farmers this past spring, which brought low temperatures that could have killed the peach crop as it did a couple of years ago.

This spring was full of challenging mornings where Mackintosh used over-tree sprinkler systems to help create an endothermic reaction in the peaches, keeping them from freezing and dying. Other orchards used under-tree water systems, which raise the temperatures in the orchards and keep the peaches from giving in to the cold temperatures.

In addition to the larger-than-normal crop yield, the peaches will actually be larger than they typically have been, according to Mackintosh.

“The fruit has fewer carbohydrates than usual, so the fruit will actually be bigger than normal,” says Mackintosh. “So we’re pretty happy with our crop this year.”