Archive for Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Just peachy

Lovers of the fuzzy fruit are able to take advantage of a bumper crop

July 26, 2000

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Once you take a juicy bite out of a fresh, tree-ripened locally grown peach, you're hooked.

"At first you'll eat all you can until you can't stand it anymore. Then you'll freeze 'em. But at first you'll eat a lot," says Greg Shipe, owner of Davenport Orchard, Vineyard and Winery, 1394 E. 1900 Road in Eudora.

A bucket of freshly picked peaches.

A bucket of freshly picked peaches.

Shipe and his wife, Charlee Glinka, have an orchard with four acres where they grow nine varieties of yellow freestone peaches.

They charge 60 cents a pound for the peaches, which customers pick themselves and put in their own containers.

Shipe and Glinka started selling peaches around July 5, and they'll have them available for another few weeks.

"We don't make any money on peaches. I grow them because I like eating them, and my friends like them," Shipe says.

Nancy O'Connor savors the flavor of a fresh, tree-ripened peach, too.

Greg Shipe of Davenport Orchards, east of Lawrence, stops to taste
a freshly picked yellow freestone peach. "We don't make any money
on peaches. I grow them because I like eating them," Shipe said.

Greg Shipe of Davenport Orchards, east of Lawrence, stops to taste a freshly picked yellow freestone peach. "We don't make any money on peaches. I grow them because I like eating them," Shipe said.

"Folks who haven't eaten a locally grown peach don't know that the only good peach is a locally grown peach. They really need to ripen on the tree to be truly delicious," says O'Connor, nutrition educator and marketing director for the Community Mercantile Co-op, 901 Miss.

The co-op buys fresh peaches from Floyd and Becky Ott, who have 20 acres of fruit trees on an orchard near Eudora. The store sells peaches supplied by the Otts for $1.59 a pound.

"We are just getting them in. The Otts are folks that have really done a lot to promote local peaches. They are at every (Lawrence) Farmers Market, three times a week," O'Connor says.

"There's nothing Floyd would rather do than cut up a peach for you and turn you on to a good piece of locally grown fruit."

A peach grown in northeast Kansas can be a rare delight, according to Bruce Chladny, a horticulture specialist with the K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County.

"Peaches are just not a reliable crop in Kansas. Those late frosts in April or May are the problem. Peaches like to bloom early. If you have an early blooming crop and a late frost, the crop is lost," Chladny says.

Tib and Pat Price, left and center, of DeSoto sample some of the
fresh peaches sold by Floyd Ott, right. Ott sells the fruit at his
home, at the Lawrence Farmers Market and at the Community
Mercantile Co-op.

Tib and Pat Price, left and center, of DeSoto sample some of the fresh peaches sold by Floyd Ott, right. Ott sells the fruit at his home, at the Lawrence Farmers Market and at the Community Mercantile Co-op.

The growing season starts with the first bud break in late April or early May, and harvesting lasts through August.

This year's mild winter, early spring and no late frost have translated into a bumper peach crop, he says.

The Otts grow more than 40 varieties of peaches in their orchards.

"I've never seen a better crop. They're wonderful," Floyd Ott says, looking over a plastic foam tray of his homegrown peaches.

The basement of the Otts' house, 2322 N. 700 Road, Eudora, is set up to display the couple's fresh fruit.

Tib and Pat Price of DeSoto have bought about 20 pounds of peaches from the Otts. Pat Price plans to freeze some of them and use them to make peach pies later on.

Floyd Ott of Eudora sifts though one of his peach trees laden with
fruit as he searches for peaches at the peak of ripeness.

Floyd Ott of Eudora sifts though one of his peach trees laden with fruit as he searches for peaches at the peak of ripeness.

"She makes a mean peach pie. They're good. She's got about 50 years experience," Tib Price says.

"They're great just to eat, period. You can have them as a snack, or have peaches and cream with supper," Pat Price adds.

The Otts have plenty of regular customers at the Farmers Market, where the couple has been a fixture for years.

Shoppers know enough by now to keep an eye out for the Otts and their fresh produce.

"People come up to me at the Farmers Market and say, 'Oh, you've got peaches today. They're just like heaven,'" Floyd Ott says.

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