Not so peachy: You'll likely pay more for a SC summertime staple

Not so peachy: You'll likely pay more for a SC summertime staple

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - If you're looking to buy some of South Carolina's favorite summertime staples, you'll probably be paying more this year.

A warm winter combined with freezing temperatures in mid-March killed a large percentage of the state's peach blossoms.

The Southeast Farm Press calls this the worst South Carolina peach crop in 10 years.

On the Fourth of July in Gilbert, you can sip on a peach slush or cool off with some peach ice cream while watching a peach float parade down Main Street.

"Eat a peach daily for that pink glow of health," said David Keisler, with the Gilbert Ruritan Club.

But this year at the Lexington County Peach Festival, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Lexington County peach.

"Everybody was worried about the peach crop. It's been a really bad year for raising peaches," said Keisler.

And that's thanks to several nights of freezing temperatures well into March – well after many peach trees had blossomed. It cost some of the state's peach farmers millions of dollars.

That's not to say there's a shortage of peaches at the festival, but they had to bring them in from a bit farther away – the county next door.

There's a similar situation at a nearby farm stand in Gilbert.

"We had a lot of warm weather really early. They were in full bloom, and then we had three nights in a row of 20-degree temperatures. It just fried 'em," said Kathy Taylor with Wayne P. "Buddy" Taylor Family Farms.

Taylor's peaches, peaches that would normally be sold at the festival, were completely wiped out. That's why she's selling peaches from Edgefield County at her stand. They're peaches that'll cost customers like Leon Wingard about 50 percent more.

"It's not been very hard to find them. It's been hard to afford them," Wingard, who's from Irmo, said. "They're quite a bit more expensive than they have been in the past. Thirty dollars for a basket that you may have paid $20 for last year."

Peach festival slush peddler Charles Wingard, who's also a major vegetable farmer in Lexington County, said the premium peach price is worth it.

"It's better for your local economy," Wingard said. "When you buy South Carolina peaches or South Carolina produces, you're supporting South Carolina farmers."

It seems most roadside stands in South Carolina do have peaches available – even if they're a bit more expensive this year.

Supermarkets likely saw a bigger effect. After the freeze, one state peach farmer said grocers and supermarkets were likely forced to buy from places like California.

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