PERRY – Peaches are on in Perry. Peach milkshakes, peach cobbler, peach crisp, and peach pie are the desserts of the season. It’s big time sales for Kerr, Ball and Mason canning jars and all the sugar and preservatives that go along with the favorite canned fruit in Utah.
The peaches are a hot selling item along Highway 89 on “Fruit Highway” right now. The long-time growers still around are moving peaches like nobody’s business.
Ask 90 year-old John Valcarce. He’s still farming his 16 acres of peaches and 2 acres of apricots. He has 17 different varieties of peaches and sells from his stand right off Highway 89.
Valcarce has been selling Perry’s favorite fruit for longer than he can remember.
“I’m not sure how long I’ve been growing peaches. I’ve been growing for a long time,” he said. “We bought our home in the ‘60’s, so we must have started then.”
He’s proud to be from Perry. He was born and raised in Brigham City, but most of his friends are in Perry.
This year, the harvest season started about the second week of August and will round up about the end of September. He said they sell everything they put out.
“Everything is picked in the morning and everything is sold by the end of the day,” Valcarce said. Everything is fresh.
“This is the time of year get them.”
“If people want good peaches they will come to my place,” he added. “If they don’t want good peaches they can go elsewhere.”
He said a lot of women think the only peach worth canning is the Alberta Peach. There are other peach varieties. Valcarce recommends Canadian Harmony and Loring peach, they are very popular.
“I don’t know why we can grow peaches so good here,” the farmer said. “It must be the soil and the climate is just right for growing them. I’ve had peach growers from Georgia come to the stand and take a bite of my peaches and tell me they wish they could grow peaches like that in Georgia. We must have the cool winter and the right sunlight.”
Some of his orchard is vacant, some of his peach trees are old and about ready to be replaced.
“You’re lucky if you get 20 years out of a peach tree,” he said. “They are old, like me, and are dying off. “
At 90 years-old, Valcacre gets in his tractor and goes from orchard to orchard, picking up baskets of peaches and bringing them to the stand.
“I feel like I’m 100 years old,” he said. “I worked for the government until the 1980’s, then I quit and just worked with my peaches.”
Valcarce’s daughter, Susan Brough, has been taking over the operation. Her friend, Misty Julander, sells at the stand.
“If my competitors knew how well my sales are doing, it would shock them,” Valcarce exclaimed. “We sold over 300 half bushels in one Saturday.”