Peaches: reminiscent of summer potlucks, beach days, and laughter with friends and family. Just seeing these beauties and their beautiful crimson blush always brightens my mood, painting me with the biggest grin. Pure indulgence when the season comes around. From over-the-sink devouring to decadent cobbler and hearty salads, my taste buds can’t help but yearn for more. Every year, I find myself counting down the months until the season starts. All year long, the trees are nourished by mother nature and the farmer’s care, a process that leaves me both in awe and impatient: how long exactly must I wait before I can enjoy them?
Interning at Frog Hollow Farm has allowed me to cultivate an even deeper relationship with these delightful stone fruits. Taking walks through the barely sunkissed orchards during sunrise, doing a bit of my own research, and spending time with Farmer Al and the skilled team at Frog Hollow Farm has gifted me a newfound appreciation for peaches—knowing the history of peaches, the timeline of peach season, and all the different types of peaches has given me much to look forward to, and of course, share with others!
Where do Peaches Come From?
Us Californians love our peaches. California peaches are so tasty it’s easy to believe that they’re native here! The peach actually originates from Northern China, then was brought to Western Asia and Europe. In the 17th century, it was then brought over to the Americas by English horticulturist George Minifie. Here at Frog Hollow Farm, we have been enjoying peaches since 1976 when Farmer Al planted his first varieties on the acreage. In fact, 4 of the original trees are still in our orchard today!
When Does the Season Begin and End?
Short answer: It depends on where you are! Here in sunny California, our harvest window starts as early as May and extends all the way through mid September. In Georgia, harvest is early May to early September and in Florida harvest is mid April to late May—our Farm Assistant Rachel says that climate is the most important factor in ripening!
Here in Brentwood, CA, we enjoy hot and dry summers with occasional breezes from the Delta, with temperatures reaching the 100s in July and early August! If cooler than expected weather extends for multiple days, our harvest may be delayed for several days or even weeks, and vice versa—warmer than expected weather softens up the fruit on the tree faster. With more than 45 years of farming experience, Farmer Al can tell whether an orchard is ready by the look, feel, and sometimes even the fragrance of its fruit. Earlier this month, after a cool week in the mid 70s to early 80s (yes, this is cool for Brentwood summers!), our Flavorcrest peaches hadn’t ripened at the same time as they had last year, so Farmer Al and the Frog Hollow harvest team decided to wait a few additional days before getting their picking totes ready.
At Frog Hollow Farm, we have 22 different varieties of white and yellow peaches for our mail order, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and farmers markets customers to enjoy all summer long. In fact, Farmer Al strategically chose to plant varieties with sequential ripening times to optimize harvest and so that our community can enjoy peach season for a longer period! He learned this from Ross Sanborn of the UC Cooperative Extension when he planted his first varieties back in 1976, and has since applied this planting strategy to our other stone fruit, pome fruit, and citrus. Our first season variety, Galaxy White, is harvested in mid May, which is then followed by our other early season favorites—Princess Time, Crimson Lady, and Gold Dust. The season then comes to a close with our best-selling variety Cal Red harvested in late July and late August, Summerset harvested in late August to early September, and Autumn Flame, ending in late September.
With nectarine and plum season also starting, I look forward to more wonderful experiences and learning about the beauty of fruit with Farmer Al and the Frog Hollow Farm team—I hope you enjoyed learning about peaches as much as I did writing this!