Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Georgia, the Peach State, vs. Early and Late Crawford Peach

I was trying to find some information on Edwin Stoutenborough. That journey led me to William Henry Crawford who, as it turns out, created the early and late Crawford Peach. William Henry Crawford lived in Monmouth County, New Jersey from 1809 to 1874 when he died. He was married to my relative, Leah Conover.

I had never heard of a Crawford peach. Since the creator of this peach was married to a relative, I felt compelled to press on and learn about this peach. It is a freestone peach. I like freestone peaches because I can easily remove the fresh from the pit (or stone). I then made a Google search query on this peach.

Not surprisingly, I came across the State of Georgia. Afterall, Georgia is the Peach State. On a trip to Georgia many years ago, I came across Peachtree Street, Road, Park, Hotel, etc. Eveything seemed to be related to a peach tree in Atlanta.

In my Google search, I found a Crawford County in Georgia that is noted for peach growing. Thinking that this county was named for my New Jersey relative's husband, I grew excited only to learn that Crawford Co. is named after US Senator William Harris Crawford and not after William Henry Crawford. I guess the saying, "Close only counts in horseshoes" applies here.

As my dad would say, "Sam Hill." I only heard my dad swear when he cut his head while working under the car or something akin.

OK, so Crawford County, Georgia wasn't named for my relative's spouse. My son graduated from Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Their mascot is a yellow jacket. I thought that was a bit weird, but after what I learned about the Peach State doesn't seem quite so odd.

According to Kathryn C. Taylor of the University of Georgia (2003), Georgia peaches are primarily grown in Crawford, Peach, Taylor and Macon counties. However, she then indicated that Georgia (the Peach State) produces less peaches than South Carolina and California. Georgia isn't the biggest peach producing state but I wondered what happened in New Jersey that knocked it off the peach map.

I found an article on the History of the New Jersey Peach written by Ernest Christ, a professor emeritus at Rutgers University. It seems that the San Jose scale decimated the New Jersey peaches in 1886. This scale came from China on plants imported to California. The scale reached New Jersey on plum trees from California. The scale killed thousands of acres of peach trees in New Jersey by 1920.

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