This peach season looks to be a sweet one.
Last year's mild winter and spring made the crop ready to pick two weeks early. And although this year's is about a week late, local growers are optimistic about the fuzzy fruit.
"This is the latest season we've had in a while," said Kent Blevins, owner of Blevins Fruit Farm in Hopewell Township.
But the rain and warm weather have been kind to the crop's flavor and size, he said.
"So far, I'd say it's looking really good," Blevins said. "We're off to a good start. Hopefully we'll come through with a beautiful crop."
Peaches are the farm's main crop, he said, and tasty freestones -- those with an easily removable pit -- are just about ready to be picked.
"Right here in Southern York County, it's excellent peach country," he said.
Bouncing back: When hail hit Triple A Dwarf Acres in May, it destroyed the apricots and plums, said owner Ed Ahrens. The East Manchester Township orchard is composed of dwarf trees that are only eight feet tall, he said.
"I think it's the worst hail that I've ever seen in my orchard," he said.
But the peaches look unaffected so far, he said, even though they're a bit tardy.
"It's a little later than what it's been last year -- and a week later than normal -- but the peaches are going to be pretty nice, I think," Ahrens said.
He began to pick the crop last week and predicts freestones and white peaches will be the next to ripen. This
season's first batch was a delight, he said.
"I thought for some reason that was sweeter than other years," he said. "It could be the sun, you know. They grow better. The hot sun is what makes it ripe."
And the consistent rain has been beneficial as well, Ahrens said.
"So far I have no problems with it. The rains have been helpful," he said.
Come and get 'em: The theme of the season seems to be sweet and flavorful, said Julie Flinchbaugh, market manager at Flinchbaugh's Orchard and Farm Market.
"I think they have had more flavor than I remember this season. We're going to have a good crop this year if everything continues the way it is," she said.
The Hellam Township orchard is currently selling two of its 24 varieties, with the third being ready for sale on Monday, she said. The wet weather has pumped up the peaches' size and flavor, Flinchbaugh said.
"The weather has been really good. We've been fortunate," she said. "We've gotten just enough (rain) to keep things moving well."
The farm is one of the only ones in the area that allows customers to pick their own peaches, she said. For the third year, it will offer that feature during its seventh annual Peach Festival, held on July 27 and Aug. 3.
And York County is the best spot for the fruit, Flinchbaugh said.
"It's one of people's most favorite fruit in the York-Lancaster area. People come to us like, 'We need York County peaches,'" she said. "I just encourage people to come out and get 'em."
-- Reach Mollie Durkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.