Eckert’s peach orchard is living - and ripening - proof that southwestern Illinois has experienced its warmest year on record.

The much-higher-than-average temps in March resulted in a peach bloom three weeks earlier than ever before on Eckert’s farm. Early blooms typically mean early harvests, and now, for the first time in its 175 years of farming history, Eckert’s is kicking off peach season in May.

They expect a limited supply of their first tree-ripened peaches to be available for purchase in the Country Store on Sat., May 26, just in time for the holiday weekend.

In addition, Eckert’s will be hosting its annual Memorial Weekend Festival complete with festival foods, live entertainment, free tractor-pulled wagon rides, a petting farm and pony and carnival rides for kids.

In response to the early season, Eckert’s Farm Market in St. Louis is scheduled to open on Fri., June 15, and pick-your-own peaches is predicted to begin around Sun., July 1, two weeks earlier than the typical peach season.

Eckert’s Harvest Hotline features the most current crop information at eckerts.com or 618.233.0513, ext. 6.

Eckert's Country Store, 951 S. Green Mount Road, Belleville, Ill., 618.233.0513, eckerts.com/countryStore.htm, 8am to 8pm daily

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