Georgia is called the Peach State, but the fruit has been part of our history long before there was a Georgia.
Franciscan monks introduced peaches to St. Simons and Cumberland Island in the 16th century. Cherokee Indians grew peaches here in the 18th century. Raphael Moses, a Columbus planter, was marketing peaches in Georgia in 1851 and gets credit for being the first to sell peaches successfully outside the South.
Peach production exploded after the Civil War, when Georgia farmers were looking for alternatives to cotton. They were so successful that in the following decades Georgia earned the nickname “the Peach State.” increased railroad lines and the refrigerated boxcar meant faster shipment to markets and pushed peach production to 8 million bushels a year by 1928.
Other states have since gotten in on the peach action so Georgia’s share decreased, now producing about 2.8 million bushels annually. But in popular culture, Georgia will always be the Peach State, and the peach became Georgia’s official state fruit on April 7, 1995, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.