August 16, 2005 – Posted at 4:23 p.m. CDT
CAMPBELL, MO – Summer time in Southeast Missouri can be summed up in B-B-Q, lemonade and peach cobbler a la mode.
Campbell, Missouri is known as the peach capital of the state and it certainly lives up to its reputation. The peach harvest is nearly over, but for those who act fast, you can still get in on some of the summer action.
Bader Farms is actually responsible for 80% of all peaches grown in the state of Missouri. From the orchard to the assembly line, it takes less than 24 hours for peaches to make it into grocery stores.
“There are two things you need for peaches.... and that's heat and sunshine. We've got plenty of it,” said owner Bill Bader.
Bader farms is made up of 90,000 peach trees on 1,000 acres just outside of Campbell. Bill Bader says it's been a fair year, even though only 75% of the crop turned out.
“Two weeks ago, we had a little thunderstorm, and it probably put 3,000 bushels of peaches on the ground, which we should be picking right now,” said Bader, “But once they hit the ground, that's where they stay.”
While they are still in the tree, every helping hand is needed. The farm employs more than one hundred migrant workers during peach season.
“Once we plant a tree, it takes about four years to get it into production. Peaches are a labor-intensive crop. You figure one man hour for every bushel of peaches,” said Bader.
Also, it's a good thing the Bader's are a big family too!
“I've got two brothers that work with me, half a dozen nieces and nephews, and two sons, and then my wife Denise takes care of the selling and the office. So we're really a family owned corporation and a family business,” said Bader.
The business packs 500 to 600 bushels of peaches an hour, and on a good day they'll pack around 600,000 peaches a day. It's not enough to turn Bill Bader off of peaches.
“My mom brings a peach pie, a neighbor brings a peach pie, so we get several peach pies here!” laughed Bader.
The peach season ran short this year by about 10 days, and if you are looking for a Bader peach, the clock is ticking.