A mild winter and adequate rain has produced an overabundance of fruit in orchards belonging to Gary and Marilyn Jones near Peabody. It is a case of too much of a good thing as over-laden trees are breaking down under the weight of an excessive fruit crop.
“It just makes me tired to come out here and look at all this,” Marilyn Jones said Monday. “The peach trees are so loaded they are just breaking down. We are picking and picking to get the weight off, but the peaches just keep getting bigger and heavier.”
Jones said their farm has been an orchard since the 1880s, with some original pear trees left from that time. Current fruit grown includes apples, apricots, persimmons, cherries, pears, and peaches.
“The pear and apricot trees can grow to be more than 100 years old,” she said. “But the cherry and peach trees are more fragile. They only last about 10 years.”
A combination of severe drought last year and a mild winter resulted in trouble for the trees.
“Many of these trees were nearly killed last summer,” Jones said. “Then when it didn’t really freeze and we started out with a warm spring, they kept all their blossoms and fruit just exploded.”
Jones said the different varieties of peach trees in her orchard were all faring about the same in terms of being able to sustain the weight of the nearly ripe peach crop.
“We’ve got some Champion, Peento, Saturn, Early White,” she said. “They are all in trouble with the tops bending all the way over and branches breaking to the ground with the weight of the peaches.”
Jones said she loves to eat peaches, and between sharing with family, selling to the local grocery store, and taking bushels to the Doyle Valley Farmers Market in Peabody, they would have no trouble using all the peaches.
“Last year we didn’t have any,” she said. “So this is a treat this year. I just hope we can save the trees.”
Jones said she expected the apple crop to be equally bountiful as those trees are also loaded with growing fruit. Cherry season finished last month with some trees still hiding a few red gems. Apricots are ready to harvest and the pears are looking very good at this time as well.