Rich History of GA Peach
Though peaches were originally planted in St. Augustine, Fla., Franciscan monks introduced them to St. Simons and Cumberland islands along Georgia's coast in 1571. By the mid-1700s peaches and plums were cultivated by the Cherokee Indians.
Raphael Moses, a planter and Confederate officer from Columbus, was among the first to market peaches within Georgia in 1851 and is credited with being the first to ship and sell peaches successfully outside of the South. His method of shipping peaches in champagne baskets, rather than in pulverized charcoal, helped to preserve the flavor of the fruit and contributed to his success.
Considerable expansion of peach acreage occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, resulting in an all-time high production of almost eight million bushels by 1928. Since then production has decreased to about 2.6 million bushels annually.
The first Georgia peaches were shipped to the New York market between 1858 and 1860. They were transported by wagon to Augusta, then by shallow-draft boat to Savannah, and finally by steamship to New York. Georgia earned its "Peach State" designation during the three decades following the Civil War.
Samuel Rumph, a middle Georgia peach grower during the early 1900’s, revolutionized the peach industry with a new variety which he named after his wife Elberta. This yellow-fleshed peach was of superior quality and shipped better than previous varieties. Elberta remained the leading peach in Georgia until the 1960’s but newer varieties have since replaced the Elberta in commercial use. Although the Elberta remains the most famous peach name, Georgia now produces more than 40 commercial varieties ... and the Elberta is not one of them.