This season's Jersey peaches shaping up to be best in years

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Jersey peaches are back and better than ever. Nora Muchanic reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on July 18, 2017. (WPVI)

Jersey peaches are back and better than ever.

South Jersey farmers are now picking the luscious, juicy fruit and this year's crop could shape up to be one of the best in years.

"It's a very clean crop and it looks good," said Ron Thomas of Sunny Slope Orchards. "We had a perfect amount of rain and sunshine so Mother Nature has blessed us this year in South Jersey."

That's a big deal. Last year because of frost and storms, Thomas lost half of his crop.

But now at his Bridgeton orchard, peach picking operations are in full swing, with all of the fruit picked by hand.

"We pick by hand because the pickers know what to pick and when to pick the peaches that are most ripe on the tree," Thomas said. "We might come back three or four times to the same tree because the peaches ripen at different times."

After they are picked, the peaches are washed, waxed, sorted, sized and boxed in the packing house to be shipped to area supermarkets within a day.

"It's very, very busy. Like almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week and our retail stand is open seven days -- 8 until 6," said Lisa Thomas of Sunny Slope. "There's nothing like them; they're just good, sweet, pretty, and yummy."

New Jersey has about two million peach trees spread out around the state. This year, Jersey farmers expect a bumper crop, producing up to 60 million pounds of the juicy fruit.

"We drove 45 minutes from Atlantic City from friends telling us. They're like, 'Oh, you've got to come down and check out this place to buy peaches from,'" said Joyce Lee of Mays Landing.

"I heard the peaches are very good so I tried them," said Tommy Wu of Atlantic City. "Very good. Very tender. Very crispy. Oh yeah, I will come again."

The Garden State is the fourth biggest producer of peaches in the country. But what makes the perfect peach?

"It has a red tone and the undertone is going to be yellow and that's what you have to look for in a peach," Ron says.

"They're sweet. They are the best, they really are and this is a great orchard," adds Barbara Straigis of Bridgeton, who stocked up during her trip.

"I'm going to give some to my neighbors. I'm going to the shore this weekend so I'm going to take some with me."

Whether you pick your own, buy at a supermarket or a farm stand -- now is the right time for Jersey peaches.

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