Guest Blog: Al Pearson, 4th Generation Owner, Pearson Farm
What’s that saying, “Variety is the Spice of Life”? Well that holds true with everything it seems, including peaches. Did you know there are more than 2000 peach varieties grown throughout the world? That’s a lot to choose from, so you might wonder why there are so many, what makes each one different, and how farmers choose which varieties to grow.
We’ve cultivated hundreds of varieties over our 135 years, but today we only produce 50 with many bearing the Prince name. Back in the 1930’s, the farmers in this area were experiencing problems with their peach crops. They needed new varieties that would flourish in our
soil and climate, trees that would be resistant to disease, and fruit firm enough that they could be shipped outside of Georgia. They hoped these issues could be addressed by the new breeding program that was just getting started at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service up the road from Pearson Farm.
With the combined efforts of Dr. Dick Okie’s work and the work of his two predecessors, Dr. Okie was able to release the first Prince variety in 1981, nearly 50 years after the program started! Pearson Farm was fortunate to be right here where all their hard work took place and we were even asked to test a few breeds on the farm. Since Dr. Okie was the breeder of record at the time the Prince varieties were released, he was bestowed the honor of giving them their names, paying tribute to his predecessor Victor Prince.
The first names were chosen for a variety of reasons. For instance, Springprince was named because it is harvested in the Spring, and Rubyprince because of its mostly red color. I found the most interesting to be Flameprince whose name was chosen because its first commercial harvest date coincided with the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia.
So now that we’ve increased your peach IQ, let’s see if we can expand your peach palate by inviting you to join in on this year’s crop! Every year provides a unique harvest and we can’t wait to try every variety to see how this year’s crop looks, smells and of course tastes!