MyFarmLife.com

Keen On Peaches

A farmer with a passion for flying helicopters, Greg Waters thinks this fuzzy fruit will take off in Florida.

By Richard Banks | Photos By Jamie Cole

Greg Waters flies over his orchard of low-chill peaches.

Greg Waters flies over his orchard of low-chill peaches.

Another juicy fruit has begun to grow in Florida groves. Long known as a product of California and Georgia farms, the peach may have a future in the Sunshine State.

Lake Wales farmer Greg Waters certainly thinks so. In the spring of 2010 he planted 25 of his 40 acres with two varieties of peaches that were specifically developed by the University of Florida for sub-tropical climates. The varieties are referred to as low-chill, since the trees need less time under 45˚ F than do peaches grown in states to the north.

VIDEO: More on the low-chill peach varieties. >>

“The peach thing has become very big down here,” says Waters, who then corrects himself, saying, “or it will be big.”

While Waters is new to peaches and his trees are still a few years away from maturity—surprising even to him, they produced fruit the first year—he grew up working in his family’s citrus orchard near Frostproof, just 15 minutes away from his current farm. Since graduating college with a business degree, he’s worked as a controller for a sizable landscaping and irrigation company, and has pursued his passion for flying helicopters.