Garden State produces peaches ripe for picking

Agriculture secretary says NJ to become the second highest peach-producing state in the nation.

When it comes to their peaches, the Terhune Orchards owners can’t help but smile. This year, Gary and Pam Mount are beaming with pride.

“I’m pleased to announce we expect to be number two at the end of the production season, number two producing state in the United States of America!” Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher exclaimed.

The state’s farmers are expected to produce 48 million pounds of peaches this year. Compare that to the 38.8 million pounds harvested last year.

The Mounts credit Mother Nature.

“This year we had a very cool spring and we thought maybe it won’t be so good, turned out that was really great, and then we had a lot of moisture. Sometimes, that’s not good, but that turned out really great,” Gary said. “And, the later part of the summer, it got really sunny, so they got sweet!”

“The peaches this year are probably some of the best flavor profiles you’ll ever taste in a Jersey peach,” Fisher added.

Fisher has his own tips about how to enjoy the juicy fruit without ruining a shirt.

“We’re talking about a lean in to make sure you don’t have it dribble down all over your shirt!” he said.

So how do you make sure you’re biting into a peach at the perfect moment, when it’s ripe and ready? It comes down to picking peaches at the right time, says Mount, and it must be handled with care.

“Peach is the queen of fruits, but you have to treat the queen very gently,” Gary said.

Farm workers pick by hand to avoid any bruising. The Mounts have 20 acres of peach trees. After the trees are planted, it takes four to five years until the peaches can be plucked.

Terhune Orchards grows about 30 different varieties of peaches. Unlike some other crops, the fruit doesn’t have a long storage life after it’s been pickeD. With so many varieties there’s a continuous supply throughout the summer.
They’ve have also gotten creative — making peach pies, peach salsa, and a new favorite here, peach wine.

“We grow things for people to enjoy,” said Pam. “When there is a really great crop and the fruit tastes so well and looks so great, then we’re all thrilled — perfect.”

If you want a taste of that perfect Jersey peach, the clock’s ticking. Apples roll into the spotlight in September.