35 Years of Quality Fruit & Memorable Experiences
Big, beautiful, sweet strawberries ready for picking!
Tons of strawberries this week!
Weekday, multi-box discounts in effect Thursday!
(see below for details)
Wednesday evening, April 16, 2014
Wow! Over 900 lbs. were picked today -- that's only a little less than last Saturday, and Saturdays are usually our busiest day of the week. A lot of people are coming out to take advantage of the "weekday discounts". Remember, tomorrow, Thursday is the last day this week for those discounts. I'm expecting Thursday to be bigger than today. And, I would not be at all surprised to see 2000 lbs. (1 ton!) picked on Friday.
On Friday and Saturday, due to shortage of staff, and much larger crowds of customers:
1) We may not be able to answer phone calls to the orchard during our busiest times -- usually 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
2) We will be taking very few orders for pre-picked fruit to be picked up on these days.
3) Also, we will have a very difficult time keeping pre-picked strawberries on hand for sale to "walk-up customers", who are not coming to pick their own.
Notice: We may be doing some computer conversions next week, which may prevent me from posting updates here. If that appears to be the case (no recent postings), you can call us at 830-997-9433 for current information. Also, the information on our answering machine is updated regularly, as changes occur.
Tuesday evening, April 15, 2014
No freeze damage to the either the strawberry or peach crops. The daily yield in the strawberry field continues to be tremendous -- about 600 lbs. picked today, and plenty left over! We anticipate a heavy crop every day this week.
Tuesday morning, April 15, 2014, 7:25 a.m.
Good news! The sun just came up here, and preliminary temperature readings indicate that we probably did not get below 35° in the orchard last night! That is a great relief for our concerns about both the strawberry and the peach crop. We will make a closer assessment later in the day.
Come on out for strawberry picking! It looks like the weather is going to be beautiful, and there are an amazing number of berries to be picked!
Monday evening, April 14, 2014
As I am writing this, our crew is working overtime to cover part of the strawberry field, before dark, in anticipation of a possible freeze tomorrow morning. They are having to fight strong winds still to do this, and this is why we will probably get only two of our four blocks covered. The strawberry flowers are the most susceptible to freeze damage, and if we can save these, we will be able to continue to have ripe fruit four weeks from now. If the temperature goes too far below freezing for an extended time, we could also lose some of the developing fruit that is nearing harvest time.
With two of the fields covered, I'm very confident that we will still have a tremendous amount of ripe strawberries for customers to pick on Tuesday morning. If you are coming then, you might need to give us a little extra time to get the covers off, since we must wait until they dry, in order to be able to pull them. In the meantime, the two fields that are not being covered will be available.
Sunday evening, April 13, 2014
We had another great day of strawberry picking today, and the berries should be very abundant every day this week. Because of this abundance, we are offering discounts again this week, Monday through Thursday. We have plenty of "carry-over" ripe fruit from this weekend to make the picking excellent on Monday. If you come Monday, be prepared for high winds and cool temperatures, but that also means there might not be much "competition" from other pickers!
Can you believe it -- there is currently a forecast of 32° here on Tuesday morning! That means it could be several degrees colder in the strawberry patch, and we will have to decide whether or not to get all the sandbags back out, and put the frost covers over the fields Monday evening, with 20 mph winds! Let's hope the forecast temperatures get changed upward on Monday, or we could take a "hit" on the current strawberry bloom -- the current ripening fruit would probably make it through without much injury, but, because of bloom kill, the crop might be reduced about four weeks from now.
Sunday morning, April 13, 2014
It looks like we could have a little chance of rain today. A little shower now and then won't keep us from being open for picking. With our sandy soil and grassy, mowed walkways, it would take heavy rain to make our strawberry field impassable. It might be a good idea to bring some raingear, just in case there is some rain.
Saturday evening, April 12, 2014
1131 lbs. of strawberries were picked on Saturday! And there may have been another 400 lbs. that could have been picked -- just that many more for Sunday pickers! The total estimated ripe berries for Sunday is somewhere around 1000 lbs. -- more than enough to supply our anticipated crowd, all the way from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
If you can't make it out Sunday, not to worry -- the berries should continue to be very abundant this coming week. And, our weekday multi-box discounts will again be in effect Monday through Thursday. Discounts will not be available next Friday, Saturday and Sunday; and Good Friday is normally our busiest day of the strawberry season. If there is any way that you can avoid coming that day, we would strongly advise that you do so, particularly if you can take advantage of the discounts on other weekdays.
Friday evening, April 11, 2014
656 lbs. of strawberries picked today! We are estimating that there could be 1000 lbs. ready to pick on Saturday! Most customers came for the large volume discounts today. Those discounts will not be in effect for the weekend. We would expect at least 4 times the number of customers on Saturday as we had today. You do the math -- 1000 lbs. may or may not be enough fruit for that many people. Best advise: don't wait until mid-afternoon to come, and expect there to be lots of ripe berries left to pick. If you come that late, you may have to spend a lot more time looking, and there may only be small berries remaining to be picked.
I believe there will be enough additional ripe berries that we can be open again on Sunday at 1:00 p.m., but we will not make that decision until we see what things look like at the end of the day on Saturday.
We will be very short on staff on Saturday, for the number of customers that we will be trying to help. Therefore, we most likely will not be able to answer the phone during our busiest times. If you coming late in the day, it would be best to try to call us first, to see if there is anything left, and whether or not we are still open (We close when there is nothing left to pick.).
Thursday evening, April 10, 2014
563 lbs. of berries picked today -- and probably another 400 lbs. that were ready, but didn't get picked! Add that 400 to even more berries which will be ready tomorrow, and we could possibly have 1000 lbs. for picking on Friday! Assuming a large "carry-over" from Friday to Saturday, it looks like Saturday might have more than enough ripe berries to supply a large crowd of pickers for the entire day. Remember: Discounts are not available on Saturday and Sunday. Discounts will very likely be back in effect again next Monday through Thursday -- not Good Friday, April 18th, which is usually our busiest day for the entire strawberry season.
Wednesday evening, April 9, 2014
We had over 400 lbs. of strawberries picked today -- almost as much as last Saturday; and Saturdays are our busiest day of the week! And, there were still more ripe berries in the field at the end of the day, that could have been picked! We are definitely moving into the "red flood" peak of the season, when there is a huge volume of ripe berries every day. The larger volume of picking today was due to customers responding to the beginning of our weekday discounts.
The production should continue to climb this week, and the average size of the berries continues to be large. I expect that with the plentiful amount of berries, we will easily have enough to remain open our full hours on Thursday and Friday. Saturday should also be a full day, unless we get an unusually high volume of customer traffic. Whether of not we will be open Sunday will be determined at the end of the day on Saturday, when we are able to see the effect of that day's picking on the availability of fruit for the next day.
Sunday, April 6, 2014, 5:30 p.m.
We will be open this week at 9:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday for strawberry picking. The strawberry plants are finally coming into their peak of production for the season. This peak should continue for about three weeks. We expect to have a tremendous amount of ripe fruit every day this week, most likely allowing us to remain open until 5:00 p.m. each day. If the ripening berries get ahead of the picking, look for us to offer weekday discounts on larger volume pick-your-own, encouraging more pickers to come out.
General Strawberry Information
Caution: The first few weeks of strawberry season (we opened March 17th), the volume of ripe berries each day is fairly minimal. This usually means that the first customers each day have pretty good picking, and anyone coming later must struggle to find enough. Also, during this time, we frequently close within a couple of hours of having opened, because there simply is nothing left to pick. In addition, we may find it necessary to be closed entirely some days, to allow more adequate ripening. Watch the postings here closely, or call before coming! By mid-April, this is usually not a problem -- there will be huge amounts of berries each day! Strawberries do not get sweeter after they are picked -- that is why we do not allow customers to pick berries that are not fully ripe! We want you to have strawberries that will most likely be much sweeter than any that you have ever purchased at the grocery store.
During the season, there will be frequent postings here of any new information about the condition and availability of the crop.
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Hours of Operation
Our "strawberry season hours" -- ripe fruit and weather conditions permitting -- are normally as follows: open at 9:00 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and at 1:00 p.m. on Sundays, and close at 5:00 p.m., if not earlier. We will always close early (or entirely) on any day when we feel like the remaining fruit is not ripe enough to be picked. We strongly recommend coming early in the day to have the best selection, and to avoid arriving after we have had to close. Occasionally, we must close a full day or more, in order to assure that our customers will have the ripest, best tasting fruit. It is a good idea to check here, or call our answering machine (830-997-9433), the night before you plan to come, and also if you cannot make it out until later in the day, to be sure that we will be open,
Very often we are closed on Sunday, because we have had so many customers on Saturday that the fields need an extra day of rest to catch up on ripening.
Our pick-your-own price is $2.85 per pound for strawberries ($8.00 minimum purchase), plus a one time $.75 charge for the re-usable berry box (6 to 7 pound capacity).
Pre-picked prices (when available): $6.00 for quart containers; $3.95 per pound for 5 pounds or more in loose, bulk containers (best to order ahead)
Weekday, multiple-box discounts for pick-your-own
Due to a current daily surplus of ripe berries, and a desire to encourage customers to pick these before they are over-ripe, and become a loss to us, we are offering the following discounts, effective Monday, April 14th through Thursday, April 17th:
12 lbs. or more (apx. 2 boxes) -- $2.55/lb.
18 lbs. or more (apx. 3 boxes) -- $2.25/lb.
24 lbs. or more (apx. 4 boxes) -- $1.95/lb.
These discounts are not available for Saturdays or Sundays, when there are usually more than enough customers to keep all the ripe berries picked. Discounts will also not be available Good Friday, April 18th, usually our busiest day of the strawberry season. The discounts may be extended to other weeks, only if similar surplus conditions occur.
(Sorry, we do not accept credit or debit cards -- cash or check only.)
What else is happening at Marburger Orchard?
Our peach trees have now finished blooming!
Bounty peach trees in bloom 3/18/14
"2014 Peach Prospects"
We had a severe freeze on March 3rd, when the peach flower buds were still tightly closed, giving them some protection from a killing freeze. In spite of that protection, there still was a high percentage of damage. However, since peach trees produce far more blooms than the amount of ripe fruit the tree can comfortably carry, and still make good size, we can stand to lose a lot of that bloom, and essentially have a "full crop". Right now it is "wait and see". The trees finished blooming about three weeks ago, and are now leafing out. We are now waiting to see how many of those flowers will have viable ovaries, that were pollinated, will start growing, and eventually produce ripe fruit. Also, there is still the possibility for another freeze, and once we get into May and June, we will have the further concern of hail (If we ever start getting rainstorms again!). In other words, we will have a much better idea about the 2014 peach crop by late April.
(The following was posted late Spring 2013.)
The major orchard task from January through March was getting all of the peach trees pruned before they bloomed in mid-March.
Peach trees need an accumulation of "chilling hours" during the winter months in order to grow vigorously and produce a good crop in the spring and summer. Because of a mostly mild winter, our trees had inadequate chilling. Therefore, we did a chemical spray of the trees during the second week of February, which we hoped would enhance this chilling requirement. It appeared that this spray did help. However, there were some varieties, and some individual trees, that showed the effects of inadequate chilling by being slow to "leaf out". This delayed start in the spring was probably responsible for some of the delayed ripening that we saw on some of our peach varieties.
Other ongoing orchard tasks include mowing, spraying weeds, irrigating, fertilizing, and monitoring for insect pests.
Normally, in April and May we devote the majority of our time to "thinning" excessive fruit off of the peach trees, so that the remaining fruit can grow larger in size. Of course, with the loss of most of this crop to the severe freeze in late March, there was very little need for thinning this year.
Once there was very little chance of additional late freezes, during the first week of April we planted our tomato plants and most of the seeds for our summer vegetables.
After the orchard is closed to customers in late summer, we do not re-open until strawberry season begins in late February or early March. During that off time, we stay busy with planting and caring for the new strawberry plants, and maintaining the peach trees, which includes cutting out dead limbs and trees, irrigating, and controlling weeds, plus equipment repair and maintenance.
Freeze Reduces 2013 Peach Crop
(report posted in early May, 2013 -- I'm leaving this information here for now, for historical reference -- hopefully, 2014 will be a much better year!)
We had temperatures in the low to mid 20's on March 25 & 26, at the time that all of our peach varieties were in bloom, or just past bloom, killing almost the entire crop. As of the first week of May, it appears that in our orchard we will have less than a 5% overall crop this year. Some varieties, like Regal and Gala, two of our earliest varieties, have no crop whatsoever. Most other varieties are "spotty", with one tree having a few small peaches on it, but the tree next to it having none. Sentinel, ripening in mid-June, appears to have the most, averaging 20-40 peaches on a tree (instead of the normal 200 to 400, after thinning!).
There is no guarantee that any of this fruit will make it to maturity. There is always the possibility of hailstorms, particularly in May and June. There is a greater likelihood of insect and disease damage, since the economic benefits will probably not justify the cost of spraying. And there is no chance that the raccoons, opossums, and birds will be merciful on our shortage!
At this time, we do not anticipate having peaches available for customer pick-your-own at any time during this peach season. Our current plan is for our crew to carefully and thoroughly pick whatever ripe peaches there are each day, and have them for sale here at the orchard stand, and at the Fredericksburg Farmers Market on Thursdays, along with whatever vegetables we may be harvesting from our fields.
The first peaches will most likely be Sentinel and Harvester in mid-June. In order to allow as many of our customers as possible the opportunity to have some peaches this year, we will not be selling any half bushel quantities, and we may have to impose limitations on the amount of peaches for the season for each customer.
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Pictures of Events During Past Years
January 4, 2013 -- snow pictures!
Fayette peach trees
Strawberry field -- peach orchard in the background
A blanket of snow on a strawberry plant
October 18, 2012 -- strawberry planting time
Our 16,000 strawberry plants arriving, in preparation for planting the next week.
The beds were built in September, and in this picture we are connecting the irrigation, in preparation for planting.
Strawberry season is primarily March and April. In June/July we remove the old plants, take out the old plastic and irrigation lines, and plow up the field. In September we rebuild the plastic-covered beds, and in October we plant new plants.
Peaches are our primary crop!
We have 12 varieties, normally ripening between mid-May and early August. Each variety lasts approximately two weeks, with the peak of production being in the middle of that two weeks. Since the ripening dates for each variety vary from one year to the next, based on constantly changing weather conditions, I can only estimate the ripening dates for the varieties. I continue to revise these estimated dates during the harvest season.
January through early March is the time when each tree in the orchard is meticulously hand-pruned, to create the most desirable structure for a healthy crop. Peach trees produce best when they have had adequate "chilling hours" during their winter dormancy, from November through February. During this dormancy, freezes do not usually cause any harm to the trees. The trees bloom and set their fruit in March, followed by the emergence of the new foliage. In April, our workers begin the tedious work of thinning. Thinning is the task of removing excessive fruit, so that the remaining peaches can grow to larger size. This work is done almost exclusively by hand, one peach at a time, and is usually not completed in all varieties until late May!
From late February to early April, we are always vulnerable to freezing weather, which can result in either a partial or total loss of the year's peach crop. Springtime is also when there is the threat of thunderstorms, accompanied by hail, which may scar or devastate the crop.
A lot of pruning, irrigating, fertilizing, insect prevention and weeding goes on year-round, in order to maintain healthy peach trees, and to produce good quality fruit.
Mid-summer peaches ready for picking! (picture from a previous year -- not this year!)
Blackberry season is May and June. We have four varieties, that ripen at different times over that two month period. The plants are tied up on trellis wires, with grass walkways between, for ease of picking.
Because of the threat of killing freezes, most of our summer vegetables can not be planted until early April, which results in harvest being mostly in June and July. The exception is our onion crop, which we normally start digging by the end of April. We try to have a good assortment of vegetables each year.
Although we allow some pick-your-own, we do most of the picking of the vegetables ourselves, so that we can be sure that they will be harvested at their freshest and best early each morning--tomatoes, green beans and southern field peas are usually the exception. The vegetables are available for sale at our orchard stand, until they are sold out for that day.
We do not grow fall and winter vegetables.
General information about our pricing: Since our products are not manufactured, and are at the mercy of nature, the quality, size and quantity can easily vary from week to week, especially in our many peach varieties. Therefore, our pricing is also flexible, reflecting those changing conditions. Our strawberry and blackberry prices generally remain the same throughout most of their respective seasons. Prices for pick-your-own are less than if we do the picking for you. However, due to the need for competent employees to assist customers with picking instructions and supervision, the prices are only moderately different. We occasionally offer discounts when we want to encourage customers to come out and help us pick an over-abundance of ripe fruit, before it becomes a loss. Since the demand for our fruit is usually greater than the supply, we rarely have the need to wholesale our products, nor offer reduced prices for customers picking larger quantities.
(Sorry, we do not accept credit or debit cards -- cash or check only.)
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Looking for something else to do while you are in Fredericksburg?
For other activities in the area, click on the link to the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce at the bottom of this page.
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If you are looking for a place to stay overnight in Fredericksburg, a little out of the ordinary, check back here a little later for some suggestions of bed and breakfast accommodations available with "friends of Marburger Orchard". Sorry I haven't had time yet to post links here, but I will be happy to help you with recommendations, if you call.
Directions to Marburger Orchard
Take U.S. Highway 87
5¼ miles south of Fredericksburg
Watch for our sign.
559 Kuhlmann Rd.
Mapquest and Google Earth now have us accurately located! (Other GPS programs apparently are still trying to say we are someplace else!)
Call or check back here for current information.
Click below on pictures of Peaches, Strawberries, and Blackberries
The best way for us to get notices to you about what is happening at
Marburger Orchard is by e-mail. In addition to being the quickest
method, it allows us to get information to you more specific to your
interests, and is a less costly way for us to stay in touch with our
growing list of customers. It also allows us to notify you anytime we
might have a special going, such as during an unexpected surplus of
overripe fruit. If you are a new customer, or have never
before registered with us, please go to “Join Our
this page, and register. Be sure the e-mail address you enter on the
form is current, and 100% correct--we do get back a fair number of
"undeliverable" e-mails. Recently, we seem to be
getting our e-mail notices blocked by more of our customers.
Be sure your spam filter allows messages from: email@example.com
If you are a previous customer, and are already on our mailing list, we would still like for you to fill out this form, if you have never before done so, especially if you would like to start getting e-mail notices, instead of our traditional cards. Please, please, please, do not fill out this form more than once!!! That only creates more unnecessary work for me, deleting the duplications. Rest assured that if you have checked your name off on our printed customer list here at the orchard anytime in the last couple of years, you are considered an "active customer", and you will get a notice from us (provided you don't have a change of address). If you think you should be getting a card or e-mail when you are not, first be patient--it may not yet be the appropriate time for notices to go out on that particular crop. If you are not getting a notice when the crop has started, check with us to be sure we have your correct address.
If you would rather get a card notice, instead of an e-mail, please indicate that preference on the mailing list form. We will notify you by only one method or the other, not by both. At this time, we are sending out only two cards each year, according to your expressed interests, one at the beginning of strawberry season, and the other at the beginning of peach season. There may be additional e-mail notices under special circumstances, such as unusual crop abundance, or limited time discounts.
We will not give your e-mail address to anyone else, and we will try to use this method of communication sparingly. We do not want to become another source of annoying spam mail for you!
If you choose not to sign up for notices from us, you can simply check back here on our website on a regular basis. We attempt to post current updates as frequently as necessary during the harvest season to keep our customers aware of changing conditions.
click here for Spring 2010 peach bloom pictures
(Spring 2010 strawberry pictures)
(2008 Pictures at Marburger Orchard)
Marburger Orchard is a member of the Hill Country Fruit Council. We have been a Hill Country peach tradition for 35 years! You know it's fresh when you pick your own peaches, strawberries and blackberries! Your vacation or outing to the Texas Hill Country just isn't complete until you've tasted the fresh fruits of our Gillespie County orchard. Primarily pick-your-own, but sometimes we have already picked fruit available. All our fruit is the best quality fruit nature can provide. We take great pride in our well maintained orchard, which provides the greatest ease of picking and family enjoyment!
Click here to go to the Hill Country Fruit Council