Peaches plentiful as summer season ramps up

Mileur Orchard daily sells several early varieties of peaches, including donut peaches, and baked goods at the on-farm store near Murphysboro. Harvest started in mid-June and will continue through the summer with peaches, nectarines and pluots followed by apple season in the fall. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

Little Bakr Abulkhair, 2, made a beeline for baskets brimming with freshly picked peaches at Mileur Orchard’s on-farm store near Murphysboro. The toddler’s family from Carbondale followed closely behind looking for a taste of summer.

Peaches plentiful as summer season ramps up

Two-year-old Bakr Abulkhair of Carbondale selects a peach when shopping with his family at the Mileur Orchard on-farm store near Murphysboro in Jackson County. Along with fresh fruit, the store sells baked goods, jams, preserves and foods made with the farm family’s fruit. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

That taste can be found in southern Illinois, where harvest of several early peach varieties has progressed the past several weeks with mid- and late season peach varieties ripening along with nectarines, plums, apricots and other tree fruits.

In Jackson County, the peaches had a good bloom and are yielding well, said specialty grower Lisa Mileur. She and her husband, Howard, own and operate the multi-generational orchard that has been in the Mileur family since the mid-1800s.

A bountiful crop wasn’t guaranteed when freezing temperatures hit southern Illinois on April Fools’ Day and Good Friday. Strawberries and peaches were in full bloom, while most apple variety buds hadn’t opened. The thermometer dipped as low as 20 degrees in the coldest pockets.

The Mileurs grow more than 30 varieties of peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots on 20-some acres. They also grow eight varieties of apples on 7 acres.

Peaches plentiful as summer season ramps up

Southern Illinois’ peach crop is plentiful as mid-season varieties will soon be ready for picking. Near Murphysboro, Howard and Lisa Mileur grow 30 varieties of early, mid-season and late varieties of peaches and nectarines on their family orchard in Jackson County. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

Peach harvest started in mid-June and will continue until September with late varieties followed by apple season.

This summer, customers will find a fruit the Mileurs haven’t sold in several years. The family’s pluot crop is bountiful this year, although Lisa couldn’t pinpoint the reason. Pluots are a cross between plums and apricots produced on plum rootstock and bloom earlier compared to other tree fruit crops, Lisa explained.

The orchard’s on-farm retail store sells fresh fruit and is known for fruit pies, desserts and creative donuts. The store also offers a variety of products made with Mileur Orchard fruit and freshly pressed cider during apple season. Retail store hours are 9 a.m. to 5p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For more updates, visit mileurorchard.com or follow the orchard on Facebook.