Ruston peach farmers struggle to keep things peachy due to a fungus in the soil

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Ruston peaches are a sweet-tasty crop in North Louisiana but the peach industry is still dealing with a fungus in the soil nearly a decade later. Mitcham Farm Manager Joe Mitcham says farmers are still losing a portion of their crops due to the fungus.

“This armillaria fungus – and so we’re still losing trees probably about ten percent of our trees each year. ”

The industry continues to fight with Armillaria mellea – a fungus that’s killing its peach trees. Mitcham says the trees are causing the fungus which is slowly taking out his orchard.

“There was a chemical called methyl bromide that we treated the soil prior to planting. It didn’t cure it but at least it gave us 10 to 12 to 15 years out of a tree life where now we’re getting only about six or eight years out of a tree.”

Low temperatures near 20 degrees in March also killed a number of crops. Mitcham believes the quantity and quality will look better in the upcoming months.

“A little later in the middle or end of June and July, we should have better quantity and better quality peaches too. Hopefully, we’ll have plenty of peaches for our customers then.”

Ruston prepares for their 73rd annual Peach Festival with live music, arts, and great food plus peachy treats Saturday.

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