KEYSER, W.Va. — The combination of heat and humidity caused heat indices to soar well above 100 degrees in West Virginia last week.
But peach farmers in the northeast part of the state say the heat has been perfect for growing a good peach crop.
Garry Shanholtz, the largest orchard owner in Hampshire County, said his crop is far better than last year.
“We’ve already picked a couple thousand bushel last week. We are right on schedule, the same as 2011,” Shanholtz said.
Shanholtz said last year’s production was only one- third of what it should have been, and that crop was a couple of weeks early.
Shanholtz Orchard in Romney produces 20,000 bushels of peaches a year.
“This year is great for peaches. My phone is ringing off the hook. Everybody is wanting them,” he said.
While there are only a few peach orchards in Mineral County, Extension agent Stacey Huffman said the peach crop is looking good.
Extension agent Dave Workman said peaches are also plentiful in Hardy County as well.
“We have a very small production in this county, and from what I’m told the peaches are doing well,” Workman said.
Orr’s Farm Market in Martinsburg, Berkeley County, is one of the largest farm markets in eastern West Virginia.
“The peach crop is excellent. The only problem is everybody has peaches,” said owner Mike Orr.
The large volume of peaches in the region will keep prices down.
West Virginia ranks 13th in the nation for peach production, producing approximately 280,000 bushels annually with a value of nearly $4 million.
The first West Virginia Peach Festival will be held in Romney, Hampshire County, from Aug. 7 to Aug. 11.
West Virginia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick will be in Romney to crown the king and queen of the festival and tour the agriculture community.
For more information on the festival, call 304-822-4320.