Specialty Crop Grower Magazine: The Last Word

Clint ThompsonSouth Carolina

Promotion and Protection of South Carolina Peaches

Blakely Atkinson

Swaying in the balmy breezes coming off of the Atlantic Ocean are the trees South Carolina is known for — not palmetto trees, but peach trees. While Georgia may be known as the Peach State, South Carolina is actually the nation’s second-largest peach producer after California. South Carolina harvests more than 200 million pounds of peaches per year from more than 60 varieties. 

Taste alone sets South Carolina peaches above the rest, which is why the slogan of the South Carolina Peach Council (SCPC) is “The Tastier Peach State.” The SCPC educates consumers on the versatility of the peach.

Spreading the Word

A primary way the SCPC promotes its product is advertising. Advertising lets the consumer know when South Carolina peaches are in season and where they can purchase them. This past August, for National Peach Month, advertising on digital billboards throughout the state on major highways and interstates encouraged consumers to try South Carolina peaches.

The SCPC also aims to create a connection between the consumer and the producer. Consumers often overlook the producer, and there are many misconceptions surrounding the agricultural industry. Due to food being so readily available to a large portion of society, food seems to just appear in grocery stores, which can lead to lack of connection and incorrect knowledge.

However, in recent years, consumers are asking more questions and are very focused on food transparency. Where does my food come from? Is it safe? The farmer map located on the SCPC’s website is a way for these consumers to make a connection and find the answers they need. It also provides a platform for the peach growers to have recognition for their hard work and dedication.

Another way for consumers to have a sense of food transparency is through the Certified South Carolina program. When a consumer sees this label, they know that product comes from South Carolina. The SCPC works closely with Certified South Carolina and its marketing initiative.

Shaping Peach Policy

SCPC members are heavily involved in shaping policies to not only benefit peach growers but all agricultural producers. Advocating for fair prices, labor reform and more overall support of agricultural producers are just a few of the issues SCPC members have been focusing on. The way to make the biggest impact and bring about change is to come together in numbers, which is how the council provides support on these hot topics.

The SCPC is always concerned with the advancement of technology and techniques associated with the peach industry. The council invests in numerous research projects and continues to support those interested in furthering the knowledge and understanding of our environment and how it can be best cultivated for a successful crop.

In 2023, both Georgia and South Carolina were impacted by a late freeze. This freeze, in combination with an early bloom set, devastated the peach crop, causing an estimated 75% crop loss in South Carolina. It was difficult to convey to the public just how serious this was for the peach industry, not only in South Carolina, but nationwide. Growers put a lot of time, effort and money into cultivating the perfect crop, and anything less than that can be fatal to their business and livelihood.

The 2024 South Carolina peach season is quickly approaching, and growers are hopeful for a productive and prosperous season. But within any field of agriculture, it is always a gamble. Let’s wish them a successful crop this season.

Visit scpeach.org to learn more about the South Carolina Peach Council.

Blakely Atkinson is a marketing specialist for peaches, watermelon and seafood for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.