Ill. growers: Mild winter means earlier peaches

May 27, 2012 • Business

This Wednesday May 23, 2012, photo, shows a sample of PF-1 variety peaches at Eckert’s Orchards in Belleville, Illinois. Illinois peach growers say mild winter are providing record-breaking early harvests. (AP Photo/Belleville News-Democrat, Tim Vizer)

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — When it comes to southwestern Illinois orchards’ peach crops this year, Chris Eckert and other growers have every reason to feel a bit warm and fuzzy.

Blessed by a mild winter and dodging spring freezes that commonly take their toll on peach blossoms, harvesting of some varieties is under way at Eckert Orchards near Belleville — two weeks earlier than anything on record at the 175-year-old family business.

“Everyone’s so excited. It’s just kinda crazy when you think about it,” Eckert, the orchard’s president, said Saturday. “Normally, you beat a record by a day or two. But two weeks?”

Eckert said his business, which has several sites in southern Illinois, grows about 75,000 bushels of peaches each year, Login to read more

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