Peach harvest beginsat local orchards

By Mandi Steele

Globe Staff Writer

J.D. Brown's no name-dropper except this time of year when you'll hear him discussing the virtues of the Red Haven, Giant White and the ever-popular Belle of Georgia.

The peach varieties are like members of the family for the longtime Granby orchard owner. He points proudly to a Red Haven peach to show the ruby red color it gets when ripe. And he's also fond of the juicy, white fruit of the Belle of Georgia peaches.

"Any peach that's ripe on the tree is good," he says.

Brown and other area orchard owners say despite a late spring frost, trees are loaded and the peaches are ripe for the picking.

"It's a pretty good harvest," he said. "We'll feel satisfied if we get all these picked."

People from all over come to Brown's orchard for peaches during the harvest season, buying them by the peck, bushel or bucket. His peaches sell for $5 for half a peck, $20 for a second-grade bushel or $30 for a first-grade bushel. His orchard outside of Granby is open for business from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The most popular peach on Brown's orchard right now is the Reliance.

"Nearly everyone who tries them says 'that's my peach,' because of their unique flavor," he said.

Brown expects to gather around 1,000 bushels of peaches this year from his 450 peach trees. He's been in the peach business since 1965 and hasn't quit because he loves to make his customers happy.

"I like to hear people say, 'I like your peaches,'" Brown said.

His family helps out with the harvesting now-a-days, but Brown, 79, is still in the game and says raising peaches is a good retirement option.

"It's more enjoyable than playing golf," he said.

David Murphy, owner of Murphy Orchards, said his crop of peaches is one of the better crops he's had. Because of the spring frost last year, Murphy said he didn't have near as many peaches last year. This year looks much better with four times the number of peaches, he said. The large output of peaches won't go to waste, however, because Murphy said he has had an "exceptional" number of people coming to him for their peaches.

"It's been crazy," he said. "They're in big demand."

Since he has so many more than last year, Murphy said the peaches are 10 to 15 percent cheaper for the customers. Depending on the quality, he charges about $10 to $18 for half a bushel. Murphy has two different orchards, one in Marionville and one in Seymour, totaling more than 3,500 trees. His orchards are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

"We have plenty of produce," he said. "It's just a matter of getting them prepared."

Murphy said peaches taste best when picked ripe. He said he and his pickers are out from dawn to dusk picking the trees, but the taste of a fully ripened peach is worth it.

"That's what the customers like," he said.

Located west of Marionville and south of Highway 60, Gary Lindeman's orchard has also been busy.

"We're getting calls every day," Lindeman said.

He says people that come to Lindeman's Orchard usually buy about a 10-pound box at a time and make items like pies, cobblers, jams and peach butter from his crop. He benefits from his crop as well, making cobblers and putting sliced peaches on ice cream.

"My wife freezes some for during the winter," he says.

Lindeman grows about 16 different varieties of peaches differing in size, sweetness, tangy flavor, color and juiciness.

"We can pretty well satisfy just about anybody's taste," he said.

Lindeman's orchard can be reached at (417) 258-2856. Murphy Orchards is east of Marionville on Highway 60 and can be reached at (417) 258-2353. J.D. Brown Orchard is east of Granby on Highway 60 and the number is (417) 472-6479.

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