Texas peach growers see successful season despite weather


WILLIAM LUTHER/The San Antonio Express-News via AP

Russell Studebaker checks just-picked peaches on Wednesday, May 22, in his Studebaker Farms orchard east of Fredericksburg, Texas. Many Hill Country peach producers are reporting abundant crops of quality peaches.

Central Texas peaches appear to be in abundant supply this year despite the crop enduring early and late freezes, heavy rain and strong spring winds.

According to experts, most of the Hill Country fruit is ripening, but the best may be yet to come, the San Antonio Express-News reported. Many anticipate some later-season varieties will be plentiful.

Hill Country peaches are prized due to the region’s rich soil, elevation and location on the edge of an arid zone, which makes for higher sugar content.

Jamey Vogel, who runs Vogel Orchard in Fredericksburg, said his family thought they were going to lose the crop in early March because of a late winter blast.

“We had three mornings that were in the 20s,” he said.

But this season’s crop is looking as good as the family’s last successful year in 2015, and it has the potential to match their strong crop of 2010, Vogel said.

Vogel believes that the rain that preceded the March freeze kept humidity levels high.

“When you really get the damage in the winter from a late freeze is when you have real low humidity,” he said.

Grower Don Eckhardt, 87, said his parents were among the region’s peach pioneers in the 1930s. The family started with about 7 acres of peach trees, and now they have about 50 acres.

Eckhardt explained that the weather can wipe out their crop. The family once went seven years in a row without a crop.

“Something that looks very prosperous — in a moment’s time, we were through,” Eckhardt said.

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