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August 7, 2010

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Peachy keen fruit of immortals

THOSE squashed-looking peento peaches were once hailed as the fruit of immortality. Though they may not give you eternal life, they are definitely healthy and delicious -- and you can pick them in Luxiang Town through August 20. Tan Weiyun takes a bite.

It's the season for those special funny-shaped peaches that are so juicy and intensely flavored. They're called peento peaches, flat peaches, saucer peaches, donut peaches, even saturn peaches.

A Peento Peach Festival is underway through August 20 in Jinshan District's Luxiang Town. You can pick your own.

The pink peaches are smaller than ordinary peaches, some look a bit squashed, and they have very tiny pits and thin skins. They're extremely sweet and "peachy," and possibly the juiciest of peaches.

Peentos, which originated in China, are also considered an heirloom peach, as these are the peaches featured in Chinese mythology.

Jinshan is the country's largest peento-planting area, and the government has supported farmers in recent years. Peach planting goes back more than 30 years in Luxiang Town since the fruit was introduced from neighboring Fenghua City in Zhejiang Province.

The planting area has expanded from the original 33 hectares to around 67 hectares today.

The peento harvest has reached 3 million kilograms, a slight increase over last year. They're on the market now.

Prices start from 8-12 yuan per 500 grams, aorund the same as last year. The most expensive peach can grow to 500 grams and sell for 50 yuan.

This planting area features well-known Huangmu Peento (literally the name of the immortal Heavenly Queen Mother). It is certified safe and of good quality.

In 2005, the Shanghai Huangmu Peento Peach Cooperative Association was set up in Luxiang Town. The group pulled together more than 250 individual peach growers and farmers to reduce expenses and risks. Farmers' income rose.

The cooperative's area under cultivation is more than 300 hectares.

The profits from planting five mu (3,333 square meters) of peento is almost as much as from growing 100 mu (66,700 square meters) of rice, according to Peng Xuhua, a local government official.

The cooperative's output value of each mu (1 mu is about 667 square meters) is 7,000 yuan (US$1,033.7) to 8,000 yuan, while its output value from the peentos grown in greenhouses has exceeded 25,000-30,000 yuan.

Last year the total output value of Luxiang Town's peento peaches was more than 56 million yuan, each farmer earning a profit of nearly 95,000 yuan. More than 2,000 jobs were created for locals.

To guarantee and maintain good quality, a Luxiang Town peento-planting standard system was also set up in 2005. Peach growers work with the national center on disease and insect pests.

Each month the local forestry administration provides insect pest and disease briefings to peach growers, who are required to regular technical training and lectures.

To expand availability, the local government is working this year with Fresh on Demand, a fruit and vegetable home-delivery service.

Everyone is welcome to pick peaches while enjoying the countryside. They can pick vegetables, go fishing, relax in tea houses and restaurants and find entertainment in nearby resorts.

To order home delivery, go to or dial the hotline 962-360.


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