The value of South Carolina’s annual peach production is estimated at 35 million dollars. The majority of peaches are grown in areas around Greenville, Edgefield, Aiken, Lexington, Allendale, and Clarendon counties. The Pee Dee and its hundreds of thousands of acres of corn, soy, peanuts, and cotton might be overlooked as a peach growing area, but one of the most successful peach operations in the state is tucked into the region’s far northeastern corner. McBee, and nearby McLeod Farms, are part of the peach farming success story in an area of the state that has seen a general decline in peach production since the 1930s, when it is estimated there were over 250 commercial peach growers in the Peidmont region of South Carolina. A combination of traditional and modern peach growing techniques, family dedication, and hard work are behind the success of the McLeod Farms story.
Kemp McLeod, his father Campbell, and grandfather Cary reach back through ninety years of peach farming in the Pee Dee. The family-owned and operated fruit and vegetable farm has been in operation since 1916. Dedication has paid off for the family as their farm has grown in size and range of agricultural products. Pumpkins, corn, tomatoes, and squash are all sold in their local market, but it is the signature “Mac’s Pride” peach that is their most well-known and consumed product. Peaches are cultivated from over 700 acres of orchards. Times are not always easy though, as late-Spring freezes are the biggest threat to growing peaches in the upper part of the state. These cold snaps challenge the massive operation in a “the bigger you are, the harder you fall” scenario. To their advantage, peaches are grown on the slopes of the Sandhills landform where natural drafts of air prevent frost from setting on the budding trees. Towering wind machines above the orchards also facilitate air movement through the fields, adding a modern technique to traditional farming wisdom.
Visit: McLeod Farms