Ruston Peaches Slowly Going Out of Business Due to EPA Regulation

Mitcham Farms is the location of Louisiana's largest peach orchard. It's famous peaches attract visitors from all over the country.

A visitor from Baton Rouge, Renee Shah, says,"We wanted to come visit the farm and get some fresh peaches."

However, the owner of Mitcham Farms, Joe Mitcham, does not believe he will be in business for many more years due to the ban of a chemical used to treat a fungus in the orchard. The Environmental Protection Agency outlawed the chemical in 2005 because it is harmful to the Ozone. 

"We had a chemical that would control this fungus called methyl bromide. We would get a good 15 maybe even 18 years out of a peach tree, but without that chemical our trees are starting to die at an early age," says Mitcham.

Mitcham says he has seen the orchard's production drop down to 20 percent in the last ten years. "We have a lot of weak trees in the orchard that are affected by this fungus," he says. 

Mitcham says since 2005 they have seen a significant decrease in the number of trees in their orchard. Also, the trees that are still producing fruit, are producing fruits which are much smaller than normal.

Visitors to the orchard say they will be extremely sad to see the well known farm go out of business. "I would be devastated," says Shah.

Mitcham says other solutions to the fungus problem are in the works, but he does not believe it will happen in time to save the orchard. He says,"As planned right now, it is gonna retire pretty soon."

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