Why A Peach Shortage Might Be Inevitable

Unless the Nashville-based Peach Truck is rolling through your city this summer, you might have to find an alternative fruit for your pies and cobblers. Like so many other food products around the country, supply of this fuzzy fruit has been significantly disrupted by harsh climate conditions, even in the country's most peach-famous state.

In recent months, we've seen the impact of climate change on mass-produced ingredients across the nation, which is rotten timing given the spate of global factors that are keeping food costs high and contributing to a looming food crisis. In Texas, last year's devastating winter storm caused a blow to the state's poultry farms, which are a major source of the nation's chicken supply (via Poultry World). Even more recently, historic drought in Mexico wiped out the hybrid chili peppers used in Huy Fong Foods' popular brands of hot sauce, making it a lot harder to find the company's Sriracha, sambal oelek, and chili garlic sauces.

Now, it looks like peaches are the latest casualty of climate change. According to Modern Farmer, even the sun-loving stone fruit can't take the heat that's been ripping through Georgia this year.

Record heat threatens to wipe out Georgia peaches for good

According to Modern Farmer, peaches have fallen from grace as Georgia's leading crop and have been replaced by blueberries. Though peaches are a summer fruit, the outlet notes that peach trees "need a certain number of chill hours each year, when the plant goes dormant as temperatures range between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit." With the unseasonably warm winters seen in Georgia over the past couple of years, the state's peach trees simply aren't getting a chance to cool off. Additionally, the weather can be unpredictable — sometimes it's ice-cold when it should be warm. "Every time I talk about what I do, I think I'm more and more crazy," Georgia peach farmer Lawton Pearson tells Modern Farmer. "We lose peaches pretty much every year."

So, what's the "Peach State" to do in this situation? Call itself the "Blueberry State"? Food scientists are hoping that's not the case. According to the Modern Farmer, researchers are working on new varieties of peaches that "require fewer chill hours," which is a tactic that has proven successful in other peach-producing states like Florida. It would be a shame for Georgia to have to relinquish its nickname, so here's hoping science prevails in the face of climate change.