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“We wait for the peaches to start coming in and then we’re here every week until they’re done for the season,” said Romano, who makes pies and cobblers from the peaches but also enjoys “eating them out of hand.” Hurff said his orchard has expanded to about 30 acres, where eight different varieties of peaches are grown, each with different harvest dates through the growing season, which generally runs from late June until mid-September.“We used to harvest the peaches in big wooden boxes that would be shipped off to the produce auction,” Hurff said of his operation. Several years ago, he decided to stop wholesaling and began selling his peaches, hand picked and hand sorted, directly to those who eat them. — In this epicenter of New Jersey peach production, where the landscape filled with rows and rows of peach trees has helped boost the Garden State’s peach crop to fourth largest in the nation, farmer John Hurff finds himself doing things the old-fashioned way.“Now we pick in baskets and they are hand-sorted by the ladies each morning.” “The ladies” are mostly high school and college-age women who work at the stand.Each morning, and sometimes in the afternoons, peaches are brought into a garage-like room beside the stand on a tractor-pulled wagon or truck.William Schober Sons was started in 1896 by Hurff’s maternal great-grandfather, the farm’s namesake, who came from Germany.
The family’s business has grown from a roadside stand started by Duffield’s grandmother around 1937 to a full-blown indoor grocery-style market that was built in the 1960s.
Nearby, at Holtzhauser Farms, in Mullica Hill, a larger grower with 144 acres dedicated to peaches, as many as 29,000 half-bushels of peaches will be sold at its farm stand or through a wholesale broker in New York, said farmer Tom Holtzhauser Jr.
Holtzhauser, whose family started the farm in 1897, said preparing his peaches for sale is a painstaking process.
And this summer, his customers will be treated to what he and others are calling a bumper crop.
For a fruit so sensitive to the weather as peaches are, the weather has been “near perfect,” the state agriculture secretary says.