In the mid-2000s, researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) were presented with a unique challenge: Take a fruit – peaches – that requires a lot of cold weather to produce and find some way to make it grow and prosper in Florida’s spring heat.
Not only were Florida growers looking for a peach of their own, they had a specific window in mind – a six-week season beginning as early as mid-March and ending as late as mid-May. That would perfectly position the Florida crop to be the first fresh domestic peach on the market each spring. The harvest would be done and gone by the time the mammoth Georgia and South Carolina peach crops came on in late spring.
The goal was two-fold. The first was to create a new Florida ag industry. The second was to provide an alternative crop for citrus growers who were losing groves by the thousands of acres to greening disease.
Now there’s a booming Florida peach industry with a season all it’s own. We caught up with one of the state’s largest growers for a closer look that first aired on the RFD-TV Network’s Market Day Report and Rural Evening News.