By Clint Thompson
Florida’s peach season has come and gone. David Wheeler, peach farmer in Lake Placid, Florida, said his season started early and finished earlier. From a marketing standpoint, that was as good as he could have hoped for.
“The marketing window, that was very good this year, yes,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler produces 120 acres of peach trees and had success this year selling retail.
“Walmart was very supportive of the Florida peach program. That really helped us. They took a lot of our volume,” Wheeler said. “They were very good to us.”
In a previous interview, Wheeler confirmed that the high temperatures in March spurred the peaches to ripen earlier than normal. With hot and dry conditions felt throughout the state the past in March and April, peach season closed sooner than normal.
Since Wheeler’s harvesting window closed sooner than normal, he didn’t have to compete against growers in Georgia or Alabama for marketing supremacy. Both states have just now started harvesting their peach crop. Wheeler didn’t have to compete for the market against larger-scale operations. The result was a good year despite a decrease in production.
“I think overall (it went) pretty well. Production was down about 25% but we had a very heavy crop last year so that’s not a big surprise,” Wheeler said. “The fruit quality was outstanding. The best way I have to judge that is when I take peaches to friends; everybody raved about them this year. I know they were a good quality peach. Overall, I would say (it was) a good season, even though production was down and packouts were down.”
Primarily a citrus grower, Wheeler, a peach farmer for nine years, began producing peaches when citrus greening disease became problematic in Florida and has since wiped out a bulk of citrus production in the state. He mainly produces a pair of varieties, UF Best and the UF Sun. Wheeler says he has had the most success producing UF Sun.
To learn more, read about University of Florida peach breeding efforts.
To learn more about peaches, see University of Georgia peaches.