Orchards are where large agriculture producers and smaller farms grow fruit trees, and peach orchards, as the name implies, are where they grow peaches. A peach farm has many varieties of the fruit to choose from to include in its orchard because peach varieties number in the thousands. Peach orchards can grow one of two types of peaches, clingstone and freestone. A peach has a fuzzy outer skin and a pit, or “stone,” inside its aromatic and juicy flesh. In a clingstone peach, the flesh does not separate easily from the pit, while in a freestone peach the flesh does not cling to the flesh. Food mavens sometimes categorize nectarines as a bare or fuzzless peach, but experts say its origins are unknown.
Peach orchards have specific requirements to ensure the growth of a successful fruit crop. The trees need a lot of sunlight, and they appreciate a well-drained, loamy soil. Some agriculture experts even recommend that the soil in peach orchards be prepared a few years in advance of planting. Different varieties of peaches need to chill for different periods of time before bloom. An unexpected cold snap after budding can significantly reduce or destroy a crop, causing growers to worry a great deal about the weather in their peach orchards.
In a successful year, without too much cold or frost, a peach tree can produce an abundance of fruit and peach farms have to thin the crop. Farmers pluck some of the fruit from the trees, a practice that allows the remaining fruit to develop successfully and become larger, and this practice also preserves the health of the tree. Farmers who tend peach orchards also must be vigilant against a number of diseases that target the crop, including powdery mildew and peach leaf curl, and fertilizer is required in appropriate amounts at certain periods of the growth cycle.
Peach farms have a long history and can be found in many parts of the world, including Canada, China, the Middle East and the United States. Historians say peaches originated in China, and were spread throughout the Middle East by travelers along an important and historic trade route known as the Silk Road. More than 70 countries now produce peaches, and almost 35 billion pounds of the fruit are grown each year. China is the world’s largest producer, followed by Italy, with the United States coming in third.