It’s almost hard to get past the grainy, fuzzy feeling on the tongue. With one bite, “crunch,” there is sweet relief, and fruit juices dribble down the chin. Nothing says fall like tasting a Missouri-grown peach.
Peach trees can be seen dotting the land in the city or the country. Typically, it is a single tree used as fresh produce for a family. However, there is a place in Missouri where peach trees have grown for more than 100 years, a tradition passed down from one family generation to the next.
Lafayette County in west-central Missouri is home to the most peach operations in the state, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. One stretch of State Highway 24 is lined with roadside produce stands offering apples and peaches. The businesses are family-owned and operated. Three of these stands include Peters Orchards and Market, Rasa Orchards, and Schreiman Orchards.
Peaches are a specialty crop that has historically had a strong presence in Missouri. During the past two decades, growers have maintained at least 1,300 bearing acres of peaches, according to USDA data. Peach acres in the state peaked in 2002 at 1,800. However, most of those acres, about 63%, had less than 1 acre of trees in 2012.
The other acreage is owned by larger orchards such as Peters, Rasa and Schreiman. These are more than the traditional one tree in a family yard. They have acres upon acres of peach trees in the hills of Missouri, and they offer their bounty at their roadside stands.
Each one is harvested at the peak of freshness, so customers can enjoy every bite. Peach harvest season can vary across the state, but in this west-central location, it is from June through October.
So, grab a Missouri-grown peach, take a bite and enjoy the photo gallery. It offers an inside look at peach production in the state.