Jul 18, 2019Georgia farmer of the year grows peaches
The Sunbelt Ag Expo recently named peach grower Robert Lee Dickey III its 2019 Georgia farmer of the year.
Robert earned his degree in 1977 in Finance from the University of Georgia, thinking perhaps he might enter the banking industry. Fortunately, for the long-term prospects of Dickey Farms, those jobs were scarce, and Dickey returned home, armed with educational tools that would prove to be innovative and expansive.
One profitable initiative was Robert’s idea to offer packing services to neighboring farmers, a decision that not only met their needs but utilized in a maximum way their packinghouse facility and generated additional income.
Thirty different varieties of peaches are grown on Dickey Farms from early May through late August. The primary types are Clingstone, Semi-Free, and Freestone. The Clingstone are the first peaches of the season to be harvested, typically ripening around the second week of May. Semi-Free peaches, a newer variety, are the second peaches of the season to be harvested and typically ripen around the first week of June and finish by June 20. They are a hybrid peach fused between the Clingstone and the Freestone. Freestone peaches are the last and most widely anticipated of the season, characterized by their hallmark juiciness and sweet flavor. Freestone peaches have the longest run, spanning from early to mid-June through August.
Dickey Farms sells primarily to Genuine Georgia Group, a sales and marketing firm with a solid foundation in the peach growing industry. Dickey Farms yields are: 218 bushels/acre of peaches on 890 acres; 10,000 pounds/acre of strawberries on two acres, and has 2,200 acres of varied timber as well as 100 pecan trees. Their orchards are spread out over 1,000 acres of land in several counties with over 100,000 peach trees—all to ensure that they’re growing the very best fruit.
As the Georgia winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo award, Dickey will receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense-paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Florida, a $500 gift certificate from Southern States cooperative and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply. Limehouse is also now eligible for the Expo’s overall Farmer of the year contest.