The excessive rain this spring that followed last summer's drought apparently made for a strong peach harvest this year.
The current peach crop from Eckert's Orchards in Belleville flourished thanks to the extremely rainy and cool spring. Eckert Inc. President Chris Eckert said this combination of weather produced peaches that are 15 percent to 20 percent larger than a typical year.
"This spring was really mild and temperatures were pretty cool and that allows the peaches to develop more slowly and grow much more effectively," Eckert said.
Tom Range said the first peaches are about ready for picking at his Braeutigam Orchards in Belleville.
"They're good peaches with nice flavor and nice size," Range said. "We're going to have a lot of peaches here."
The peaches at Simonton Orchards in Okawville also are healthy after the cool and wet spring.
"They are doing real well," said orchard owner Mike Henry. "They've got a nice size good flavor and are juicy right now. We are having a really good season."
Last year's warm spring developed a good crop for Henry, as the first fruit was unseasonably ready for harvest by Memorial Day. This year, his peach crop is coming in at the usual time of year.
"I've seen better, but I would still consider this a good crop," he said. "We will have a really good crop."
Eckert said although last year's historic drought took its toll, the record dry spell benefited this year's peach crop because trees grew fewer buds and actually contributed to the annual thinning process the orchard conducts to allow remaining buds to grow larger and juicier fruit. This year, the orchard did not have to manually thin the peaches as often.
"I don't know if we're going to get double the crop to make up for last year, but it will be a good crop," he said. "I also knock on wood when I make statements like that because we are always a hail storm away from disaster."
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 618-239-2526.