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Finding Florida Peaches and Blueberries

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Georgia is famous for its peaches–but Florida peaches are gaining ground.

IMG_2784Since the University of Florida’s development of a low chill variety–which requires a shorter chill time than other varieties–Florida peaches have experienced market growth. In fact, some varieties even can be grown in the Miami area’s more tropical climate.

Florida peaches hit the market before Georgia peaches, which is another reason that growers have been able to sell them. “Peaches can produce 5-10,000 lbs/acre and prices in this market window can bring $2-4.00/lb or more,” according to the website for Chestnut Hill Nursery & Orchard in Alachua, Fla.

Fresh from Florida peaches.

Fresh from Florida peaches.

Another reason that growers are turning to peaches (and blueberries, as you’ll read below) is because of the devastating effects of citrus greening, which is killing much of the citrus crop in the state. Growers are changing and adapting to survive.

Peaches, which fall in a category of fruit called stone fruit, have plenty of nutritional value, too. They are rich in vitamins A and C and have 3 grams of fiber each. Add them to smoothies, or make peach pie or cobbler–or simply enjoy them as they are.

At the end of this article, we share some locations for u-pick peaches in Florida.

Blueberries Another Emerging Florida Crop

Like peaches, blueberries are another produce item that you’ll see continue to grow–literally and figuratively–in Florida. In fact, between 2012 and 2013, the Florida blueberry crop value increased by more than 23%, according to Erin Gillespie, press secretary at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Florida's blueberry season is in April and May.

Florida’s blueberry season is in April and May.

Blueberries grow in 58 of Florida’s 67 counties, Gillespie said. However, the largest acreage is in Alachua and Polk counties, both in the central/north central part of the state. The Florida Blueberry Growers Association is working with the University of Florida to survey its members and get a better sense of where growers are located, said Dudley Calfee of Ferris Farms in Floral City. Calfee is president of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association. Florida’s blueberry season is relatively short, running from April to May or June, depending on the weather. This season should be a fruitful one, pun intended. (All the nifty facts reported in this paragraph come from Florida Culture’s original reporting earlier this year in the Central Florida Agri-Leader. Find the article link here–but note that the Agri-Leader no longer publishes.)

Finding U-Pick Peaches, U-Pick Blueberries in Florida

IMG_2447If you’re hankering for some fresh Florida peaches and blueberries, now’s your time to go before they are out of season (in fact, some locations may already be closing up shop for the season). Below are some u-pick farms we found on PickYourOwn.orgLocalHarvest.org, and other sources. The names below are just a small sample of what’s available around the state.

Always call or check social media updates from the farms to make sure their fruit is still ripe for picking when you want to visit. You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of some rural area with disappointed kids. Also, wear comfortable shoes, and bring a hat and sunscreen. And have fun!

U-Pick Peaches from Florida

Oponay Farms

Lakeland, Fla.

English Lake Farms

Ft. Ogden, Fla.

Florida Sweet Peaches

Arcadia, Fla.

U-Pick Blueberries from Florida

Lake Catherine Blueberries

Groveland, Fla

The farm has both u-pick blueberries and blackberries.

The Wagon Farm

Ocala, Fla.

Aunt Zelma’s Blueberries

Island Grove, Fla.

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