Alabama peach farmers, and the fans who consider them the world’s best, are crossing their fingers in hope. After an abysmal 2023, prospects are shaping up for a bountiful harvest this year, the Alabama Extension Service says.

Winter’s temperatures were relatively mild (generally not a good thing for peaches), but chill enough that blossoms are proliferating now on Alabama’s commercial crop, which mainly grows in Chilton County.

And now that we’re into April, the possibility is pretty slim for a late crop-killing hard freeze like Alabama experienced last year in mid-March. Then, temperatures dropped to the teens for several days and growers ended up losing 80 percent or more of their peaches.

Freezing temperatures briefly hit Chilton County again this March, but overall damage is limited, says the Clanton Advertiser.

That means by mid-May, the first of the 80 varieties of peaches commercially grown in Alabama will be harvested. Cobblers and ice cream will soon follow.

Prospects are good this year throughout the Southern peach belt that runs through central regions of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. South Carolina ranks second in peach production nationally (behind California), and Georgia is eighth. Alabama’s relatively modest crop only puts it in the top 20.

Peach season is generally considered to run between Memorial Day and Labor Day, although some varieties are available earlier or later in that window. Early varieties are known as “clingstones” because the pit “clings” to the fruit. By mid-June, “freestone” varieties with easy-to-remove pits take over at markets.

One of the main factors for successful peach production is what is known as “chill hours.” Depending on the variety, peach trees need to spend 400-1,000 hours in temperatures between 45 degrees and freezing, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service. Cool temperatures send the trees into dormancy, essentially providing a rest period before the action begins. The chill also helps regulate when trees develop the buds that become fruits.

The best-known outlets to buy peaches, Durbin Farms and Peach Park stores at Exit 205 off Interstate 65, are open daily, providing a ready source of peaches for Alabamians and out-of-state travelers passing through on their way to and from the beach.

Peaches also are a top draw at seasonal farmers markets around the state, most of which are open by the time peach season starts. Look for these Alabama growers at your local pop-up market or stop by their own farm markets to load up.

Burnette Farms


Market address: 8551 Helena Road, Pelham

Hazelrig Orchards


Market address: 64235 Highway 231, Cleveland

J. Durbin Farms


Market address: 2130 Seventh Street South, Clanton

Knight’s Farm


Market address: 2767 County Road 49, Clanton

Penton Farms


Markets: They sell at farmers markets in Birmingham (Pepper Place and Lee Branch), Vestavia Hills, Tuscaloosa, Thomasville Camden, Millbrook, Wetumpka, Montgomery, and Monroeville

Reeves’ Peach Farm


Market address: 336 Highway 35 East, Hartselle