WINCHESTER—Whip up a delicious peach cobbler or enjoy a scoop of peach ice cream—it’s National Peach Month! With peak harvest season just around the corner, Virginia peach growers have fruit ripe and ready for picking. Cling peaches, typically picked before August, have flesh that’s attached firmly to their pits. Freestone peaches, which are picked later in the season, have pits that are more easily removed. Many Virginia peach farmers grow both types, and there is a demand for both. “We are big on giving away samples. Usually people know exactly what type of peach they are looking for, but a sample to test is always helpful,” said Heather Marker McKay of Marker-Miller Orchards Farm Market in Frederick County. Weather can affect the range of peach sizes grown during the season. A rainy season will produce peaches that are large but not as sweet, and too little rain will have the opposite result. “Customers want different things; it could be small and sweet or large and juicy. However, both variations of our peaches sell well both wholesale and retail,” McKay said. When selecting fresh peaches, “you want to ensure that it is not too ripe or soft when you hold it,” said Lynn Graves of Graves’ Mountain Lodge and Farm in Madison County. “You also don’t want green coloring on the peach , because then it isn’t ripe enough.” The 2012 Census of Agriculture found peaches grown on 430 Virginia farms, on more than 1,700 acres. Fans of this fuzzy summer fruit can head to Virginia’s annual Peach Festival on Aug. 21 in Patrick County. For details, visit patrickchamber.com . Media: Contact McKay at 540-662-1391 or Graves at 540-923-4231.