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It's A Peach

These fruit farms are ripe for the picking

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More than three dozen varieties of peaches are grown in South Carolina, which harvests about 200 million pounds of peaches annually.

Typically, the earlier varieties are Clingstone, followed by Semi-Cling and finally Freestone, which are available in mid-July until September. White fleshed varieties such as Artic Gem, Starlite, Belle of Georgia, Eden and Carolina Belle are considered specialty peaches since they are usually too soft to be shipped long distances. Other popular varieties are Garnet Beauty, a semi-cling, medium sized, sweet and juicy fruit; Red Haven, a freestone medium sized fruit good for canning and eating; the very popular Elberta; Fairhaven, a large yellow peach; and Golden Jubilee, a harder to find heirloom peach used for home canning.

We live in a veritable peach heaven. Fresh local peaches are available at all the area farmers' markets and at the smaller produce stands. In addition, you might want to check out the following "pick your own" and ready picked farms:

Black's Peaches, 1800 Black Highway (SC HWY 5), York, SC. 803-684-2333. Owner Arthur Black will have 30 varieties of peaches, ripening at different times, through September. Pick your own is $20 a bushel, $24 ready picked. Hours: Monday through Saturday 8am until 6pm, Sunday 1pm until 6pm. Directions: On South Carolina Highway 5, three miles west of York at intersection with Springlake Road. Look for signs.

Lineberger's Killdeer Farm, 300 Goforth Road, Kings Mountain. 704-739-6602. Ten varieties of peaches through late August. Blackberries and plums are ready now, too. Hours: Monday through Friday 8am until 6:30pm, Saturday 8am until 3pm. Closed Sunday. Directions: From Interstate 85 South, take exit 10B to Hwy 74 West to Hwy 216 North (Cherryville/Kings Mountain exit) for five miles. Take a left onto Goforth Road. Farm is about a mile on right. Only five to 10 minutes from I-85.

The Peach Tree, 2077 Hwy 321 N, York, SC. 803-684-9996. Owner Ben Smith's family has farmed peaches in York County since 1928. You can pick your own ($20 bushel) or buy ready picked ($29 bushel). Season ends September 15. Smith has an ice cream parlor, too. The Peach Tree has over 30 peach varieties. Hours: Monday through Saturday 8am until 6pm; Sunday 1pm until 6pm. Thirty miles southwest of Charlotte. Directions: Take 49 South to York. At intersection with South Carolina Highway 5, take a right. Go to the next stop light. Turn right on Highway 321. Farm is two miles north on the left. There are signs for the farm along the way.

Bush-N-Vine Farm in York, SC. 803-684-2732. Owner Bob Hall has 12 varieties of peaches throughout the season. Ready picked are $20 for a half-bushel. Hours: Monday through Friday 8am until 6pm; until 5pm on Saturday. Directions: Take 1-77 South to SC 161 exit at Rock Hill. Go five miles and turn right on SC HWY 5. At third traffic light, turn right on US 321. Farm is one mile on right. There are signs.

Bryant's Peaches, 777 West Old Limestone Road, Filbert, SC. 803-684-7310. Peaches are available through September. Owner Jimmy Bryant has an ice cream parlor on site. Pick your own or ready picked. Hours: 8am until 6pm daily. Directions: Go south on NC/SC 49. Five miles north of York. Follow the signs on 49.

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