Peachy Keen in South Carolina
When Clemson University’s Extension and fruit specialist Juan Carlos Melgar suggested putting a paper bag over a peach to detract insects and diseases during production farmers laughed.
Melgar began trial studies with funding from NIFA’s Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education grant. The results showed that the technique protects the fruit from devastating brown rot, marauding insects like plum curculio, and even hungry birds. Producers and backyard growers started paying attention.
Researchers found that leaving the fruit unbagged in an organic orchard produced a 20 percent yield. Adding the bags increased the yields 10-15 percent, and spraying the fruit before bagging added another 35 percent in yield. In addition, yields were higher in the organic orchard than the conventional orchard.