Archive for Saturday, July 17, 1999


July 17, 1999


They're flogging the peach trees at Floyd Ott's farm near Eudora.

Ott and his wife, Becky, are beating the trees to keep limbs from breaking under the weight of what growers are calling a "100 percent" peach crop in Kansas.

"My wife's about ready to wear out," Ott said of the work they've had to do, beating tree limbs on 400 peach trees with broom sticks to knock off unripened peaches.

Peaches are weighing down tree limbs across northeast Kansas because the mild winter and the absence of a spring freeze meant more peach blossoms survived than normal.

"In this part of Kansas we have such a late frost that it normally kills the blooms," said Traci Moszeter, master gardener for the Kansas State University Research & Extension office in Douglas County.

Rex Rees, owner of Rees Fruit Farm near Topeka, explained the impact of the warmer weather.

"You're supposed to have one to four blossoms for every six inches of branch," Rees said. "... This year we've got 10 to 14 peaches in the same six inches."

Rees' employees have thinned the 300 peach trees three times this year. Peach picking at Rees' orchard began the first week of June. Ott began picking June 7.

This year's peach crop is vastly different from last year's, Ott said.

"Nothing," he said. "We didn't even have a blossom. I never even saw a blossom."

Moszeter is reporting a bumper peach crop of her own, following some lean years.

"In the last four years, I haven't had anything on my peach tree," she said.

The increase in peaches may not mean a drop in prices for those who like fresh fruit.

Rees said the number of high-quality peaches sold at fruit stands and farmers' markets probably would be about the same as last year. This year's abundance will mean more lesser-quality peaches for canning.

Ott and Rees plan to charge between 50 cents and a dollar per pound for fresh peaches. The price will vary based on the size of the peach.

Also, the same conditions that caused the abundant peach crop means other fruit will be available in large quantities, Moszeter said.

Ott already is harvesting apples at his orchard.

"I'm going to have to hire some more help (for) picking this week and next week," he said.

-- Erwin Seba's phone message number is 832-7145. His e-mail address is

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