2011-07-01 / Local News

Everything you always about peaches...

Ask Dr. Peach
By SCOTT POWELL Ledger Staff Writer spowell@gaffneyledger.com

DR. PEACH, AKA DESMOND LAYNE DR. PEACH, AKA DESMOND LAYNE Everything you ever wanted to know about peaches can be found in a Web site put together by Clemson University professor Desmond Layne.

Often called “Dr. Peach,” the state’s peach specialist has created a one-stop information site for peach lovers called “Everything About Peaches.” Launched in July of 2010, it contains extensive resources for commercial growers, backyard growers and fruit consumers.

There is something for everyone on the site such as fact sheets on peach history, recipes, downloadable peach wallpaper and a section for backyard growers interested in planting their own peaches.

Layne is spotlighting a different variety of peach every week on the Web site in a video series titled “Peach Picks for South Carolina.” He expects there will be more than 20 videos on peaches by the end of the summer.

“I wanted to create a one-stop shop which would be a comprehensive site covering every facet of peaches,” Layne said. “There are several educational videos on the site, frequently asked questions, information about different peach varieties, and a large section for commercial growers. There is even an article on the best way to grill a peach on the barbecue.”

Layne has been interested in fruit since spending his childhood around orchards in Canada. He spent summers harvesting crops on farms before he decided to make a career of it.

He has worked for Clemson University for 14 years in the environmental horticulture department and during the summer months can often be found in peach orchards throughout South Carolina.

His regular peach columns for American Fruit Grower can be found on the “Everything About Peaches” Web site. As of late April, a Clemson Extension news article states the “Everything About Peaches” Web site has received more than 18,000 hits since its debut last year.

“Dr. Peach’s duties don’t stop there. He also teaches the only fruit class at Clemson, and most likely the only class where fruit is eaten during every single meeting,” according to a news article on the Web site by Victoria Witte for Clemson University.

South Carolina ranks second nationally behind California in peach production. Peaches currently have a $50 million annual economic impact on South Carolina’s economy.

July in Cherokee County is generally marked by three things — hot weather, peach picking and another installment of the South Carolina Peach Festival.

Clemson Extension Agent Andy Rollins notes 125 acres of peaches have been planted in the past three years. Locally, peaches are harvested by Abbott Farms, Strawberry Hill USA and Sunny Slope Farms.

Peaches are primarily being sold on roadside stands. You can also find them in drinks such as peach milkshakes, which will be available in local restaurants in the coming months.

“South Carolina grows one of the best-tasting peaches offered in the country,” Rollins said. “We have received a good supply of rain in the Upstate over the past several months. This has resulted in a really good peach crop this year.”

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