The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has presented South Carolina peach grower Jimmy Forrest with the college’s Alumni Award of Excellence.
Forrest, president of Dixie Belle Peaches, Inc., in Ridge Spring, South Carolina, was recognized as a national leader in the fruit growing and packing industries. Ranked as the nation’s fourth largest peach grower, Dixie Belle manages 2,600 acres of peach orchards.
Forrest and Dixie Belle Peaches have shaped the vanguard of peach production and packing techniques for decades. In the 1990s, Forrest was an early adopter of the 25-pound box, favoring its size over the more common 38-pound box used by Southeastern peach farmers at the time. The smaller box—which resulted in less bruising and damage to peaches—was a game-changer for Southeastern growers because it allowed them to compete with large growers in California who had set retailer’s expectations for 25-pound peach cartons.