Where the peaches grow in Ridge Spring, South Carolina.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Our friends at Titan Farms in Ridge Spring, S.C., recently unveiled a new state-of-the-art peach packing facility. So naturally, we had to go check it out.
Lori Anne Carr, who owns Titan Farms with her husband Chalmers, took me on a tour.
“Cold chain management is important,” she says. That would be an understatement, I know, since I previously worked at Thermo King Corp., the world leader in transport temperature control. That company and its competitors exist because whether you’re shipping blood between hospitals, ice cream to grocery stores nationwide, or peaches down the street or across the world, maintaining temperature is essential to maintaining product quality.
“A mealy peach means that it was poorly handled at some point,” says Lori Anne. Once they’re brought in from the field, peaches “need to be kept below 50 degrees.”
Titan Farms’ new peach processing equipment was designed by a New Zealand-based company. Installation began in February and was completed in time for the start of this year’s peach season on May 15; my late August visit occurred near the end of the 2015 peach season, so everything was humming along seamlessly and everyone was well acquainted with the new routines.
All Titan Farms peaches are picked by hand. Once harvested, peaches are placed in bins that each have a unique bar code, so Titan Farms knows from exactly which part of the field each packaged peach was harvested. Once cataloged, peaches are washed in water that’s 35 degrees to hasten cooling the fruit after it’s brought in from the sun. Scrubbers help remove any dirt along with a majority of fuzz—if you want a naturally fuzzy peach, look for the premium Lori Anne brand at fine grocery stores including Wegman’s, Rouse’s, Hy-Vee, Lunds & Byerlys.
Peaches are graded and sorted by size and weight, then packaged to customer specifications on various factors including color. From a computerized room that looks like the peach farm equivalent of an air traffic control station, quality is meticulously tracked: a mega-fast camera takes 15 photos of each peach from every angle as the fruit whizzes by on conveyor belts.
Each season, Titan Farms processes an average of two million 25-pound boxes of peaches. Approximately 28,000 boxes are processed daily during peach season. Titan Farms packages peaches under several different labels; their fruit can be found at Publix, Costco, Harris Teeter and many more stores nationwide.
So does a peach farmer get weary of the flavor of peaches? “We all look forward to them!” says Lori Anne. “In fact, I’m not sure that I ate as many peaches as I wanted to this summer.”
As this year’s peach harvest winds down, Titan Farms will turn its attention to green peppers, broccoli and eggplant. And, most especially, get ready for the 2016 peach season.
- With 5,100 acres in production, Titan Farms grows more peaches than the entire state of Georgia.
- Titan Farms is the largest peach producer in the southeastern U.S.
- Titan Farms currently grows 62 different varieties of peaches. Since ripening times vary throughout the summer, at any given time an average of 6-8 different varieties are being harvested.
- Peaches are a good source of vitamins A and C. Most of the nutrients are in the skin, “so just eat it,” says anyone you ask at Titan Farms.
- Peaches contain no fat or cholesterol.
- There are only 60 calories in one medium- sized peach.
- Leave peaches at room temperature until they reach the desired level of ripeness, then store them in the refrigerator.
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– Photos © HSP Media LLC
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