This is one of two field packing sheds we use to pack our fruit. They were originally designed and used in the 1960s. Mike’s dad packed fruit in them and now Mike is carrying on the family tradition.
Fixing Packing Shed
As far as we know, we are the only farmers still doing this type of field packing of fruit. We are able to get the fruit from tree to bucket to lug box in minutes.
Box Full of Sweetness
The lug boxes are stacked on a trailer and moved to the pole barn until they are loaded on the truck with a forklift.
Our Forklift Driver
From there Mike drives the truck 10 miles to Reedley where it is put in cold storage until shipped to the consumers.
Delivering to Cold Storage
We know whoever takes over our farming operation in the future will not be using these packing sheds. Perhaps we will donate them to a museum to preserve this part of farming history. Do you think it belongs in a museum?
“I like mine crunchy like an apple.” “I prefer mine soft and juicy.” ” I love the unique flavor and texture.” “I’m diabetic, so I can’t wait for the Babcocks because they have less sugar, but are still sweet.” These are a few of the comments we have heard about the white-fleshed peaches and nectarines we grow. We actually have 3 varieties of white peaches and 4 varieties of white nectarines on our farm. When it comes to white peaches, it is probably the Babcock that most people recognize by name.
Babcock Peach photo credit: Dave Wilson Nursery
I remember sitting at my grandma Carlson’s kitchen table eating freshly-picked Babcock peaches. I like them on the green side and crunchy because that’s the way I ate them as a child. Sliced on top of cereal with milk poured over them, yum! My grandparents bought their farm near Dinuba, CA in 1942 and planted a family orchard as a barrier between the house and the road. The Babcocks were the favorite of many of my cousins who visited the farm regularly. According to an article titled, “White as Snow, Sweet as Honey,” by Ed Laivo, http://www.davewilson.com/homegrown/gardencompass/gc04_sept_oct_01.html the Babcock variety was introduced in 1933. It became a West Coast favorite and is still popular today.
History of White Peaches and Nectarines
According to Laivo, the white peaches that frequently resulted from cross-breeding were discarded by hybridizers because the market only wanted firm, yellow-fleshed fruit. The white peaches were easily bruised and considered useless for commercial sales. That changed in the 1980s when the Asian markets opened and demanded sub-acid white-fleshed fruits and were willing to pay a premium price. Mike’s dad planted Babcocks in the 60s and we planted some after we bought Mike’s grandparent’s place in 1979. At one time we were the third largest white-flesh peach growers in the state of CA with 9 acres.
Early varieties of white peaches were grown in France and England in the 1600s. The flat variety of white peaches (so-called Donut peach) came from China in the 1800s. Peaches and nectarines are nearly identical, genetically. Many peaches and nectarines have both peach and nectarine ancestors, according to Laivo. The first of the newer firm, sweet-tasting nectarines was a Babcock descendant, Arctic Rose, developed in the 1990s. We grow the Arctic Star, Arctic Sweet, and Arctic Jay varieties as well as our newest variety, Polar Lite.
Flat of Goldline Peaches
The Finest White Peach of All Time
Mike’s grandfather took pride in growing the best-tasting fruit available. He decided to plant the Nectar white peach, considered by some to be the finest white peach of all time (See Naylor Organics: Our Farm Story page for more). We have continued that tradition with our Goldline peach. Mike was introduced to the variety by Burchell Nurseries in the late 1980s. Nobody else wanted it because it was so delicate and was not deemed suitable for commercial sales (sound familiar?). The flavor reminded Mike of the old Nectar peach, so he thought it might have potential. Initially he planted 1 acre of trees (150) as a test plot. The fruit grew large and was a true “sink” or “water” peach like the Nectar. The flavor was unparalleled. They required extra care in picking and packing, though. We even made a special-sized wooden gift box one year for marketing them. They also required close communication with the produce managers so that they would not be ruined by rough handling. This extra time and care was rewarded every time someone tasted a Goldline for the first time and we watched their eyes roll back as they bit into the flesh and the juices dribbled down their chins. The Goldline is the last fruit we pick each year and ripens in late July to early August.