Harsh Weather Brings Small Peach Crop For Porter Growers

Saturday, July 16th 2011, 5:38 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

PORTER, Oklahoma -- People came from all over, even several states away, to buy peaches during the 3-day Porter Peach Festival. But this year's crop is drastically smaller because of harsh weather.

At the 45th annual Porter Peach Festival, it's all about numbers. Prized peaches fetch as much as $1400 at auction. But the real number that matters is 25 percent. That's how much of the normal crop Porter produced this year.

"It's not just Porter that has a reduction in peaches. There are other orchards in Oklahoma and Western Arkansas," Roy Essary, Festival Chairman, said.

All the peaches came from Livesay Orchards, and the owner says mother nature shriveled the crop.

"The dry weather at this point is doing some damage. We've got some irrigation, but it's hard to keep up with 105-degree weather," said Kent Livesay of Livesay Orchards.

The heat actually slows the ripening process. And before the heat, many of the blooms died in the cold.

"A freeze on the tenth of February got to well below zero. Seventeen below in one orchard, maybe 8 below in some of the others," Livesay said.

Harvesting of the 40 different peach varieties begins the first of June. Livesay has had to limit the amount of peaches customers can buy to make sure everyone gets some.

"Typically, most of our sales are in half-bushel baskets and this year, we're only selling in quarter-bushel boxes," she said.

Even with the low crop, Livesay is optimistic, knowing it could be worse.

"In 1996, we probably had well under 1% of the crop and in 1974, it was zero. So, there's been worse years," she said.

If you didn't make it out to the Porter Peach Festival, don't worry. You can come out to Livesay Orchards because they'll be picking peaches for the next two or three months.

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