Friday, April 24, 2015

Pruning Peach Orchards: A Lifetime Skill and Dedication

[Note: This post, prepared originally for the NC Folklife Institute's NCFood blog, is hosted on the institute’s website, with excerpts and a link to the website posted here.]

Nothing says spring like the arrival of flower blossoms, particularly in the Sandhills and eastern North Carolina with blooms on acres and acres of peach trees.

Trees in the Sandhills awaken at
springtime and stand ready for their
early pruning.
Many in North Carolina believe that our state’s peaches are the best (they’re right) and that peaches are native to the South (they’re wrong). Cultivated in China for more than 3,000 years, peaches arrived in the Americas in 1571 when Spanish missionaries introduced them along the Atlantic coast in an area known now as St. Simons Island, Georgia. More than 50 years later, George Minifie of England brought the first peach trees to the British colonies in North America and cultivated them at his estate near Jamestown, Virginia.

Peaches thrive in the rain, heat, and soil conditions of our state and other southern states. They are a vital fruit crop in the agricultural economy of several N.C. counties. However, as much as Mother Nature nurtures, a peach orchard is not self-sufficient. It requires constant monitoring and care, particularly pruning.

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