KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– Given the choice of a peach from Georgia, South Carolina or Tennessee, Dr. Robert P. Jenkins will go for the Tennessee peach every time.
“Tennessee peaches will be more flavorful,” Jenkins said, as if a fruit marketing expert in the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service might have another answer.
But Jenkins means every word of it. Tennessee peaches are more flavorful because they ripen naturally.
Other states’ peaches might taste just as good in their local markets, but the ones shipped to Tennessee are picked early so they will hold up under shipping and handling, Jenkins said.
“A peach that’s picked semi-green just never gets as full-flavored as one that’s left on the tree to ripen,” Jenkins said.
About 85 percent of Tennessee growers sell their peaches directly to the consumer or local fruit market, rather than wholesalers, Jenkins said.
This year’s crop of Tennessee peaches is the best the state has had in several years, Jenkins said. Last year’s crop was wiped out by late spring freezes.
The big-three peach producing states — Georgia, South Carolina, and California — report record harvests this year, but that won’t have much effect on the prices Tennessee growers can get, Jenkins said.
“If they were selling to wholesalers, it probably would,” Jenkins said. “Our growers are selling direct, on freshness and ripeness.”
Contact: Dr. Robert P. Jenkins (423-974-7271)