37 Years of Quality Fruit & Memorable Experiences
2016 Strawberry Season Beginning to Slow Down!
We now have a fairly good supply of strawberries ripening each day. However, there still may be days when we must close early, due to lack of enough ripe fruit for the demand. For current picking conditions, and times we expect to be open, read the updates posted below, and usually revised several times each week.
Tuesday evening, April 26, 2016
(Due to circumstances this week, I will not be able to post any additional updates here again until possibly late Saturday or early Sunday. The following will be my best guess of what we expect for the next four days. For the most current information, you may also call the orchard -- 830-997-9433 -- mornings, through Saturday, to have one of us answer your questions. We will also have a recorded message, for when we are not available to answer the phone, but that message may not have the most current information, unless there has been a significant change in the picking conditions.)
1. Wednesday may be the best day out of the next four for picking. There is almost no predicted chance of rain, and there should be lots of berries, since we had very few customers out picking today.
2. Thursday morning could also be very good. The rain chances go up to 30% around noontime.
3. Friday has a high probability of rain all day....60%. If it is raining at 9:00 a.m., we will put off opening, in order to see if there might be any breaks in the rain. If that seems likely, we will try to open later in the morning. Call to see what the prospects for opening might be, and if you are coming, bring raingear! If it looks like the rain will be persistent, we will make the decision by noon to not open at all for the day.
4. Saturday's rain chances are only slightly less than the chances on Friday. The same decision making process about opening the orchard for picking applies, as did for Friday....except that there could be more opportunity for picking between rain showers on Saturday. No way to know for sure this far in advance.
5. Sunday is definitely too far away to guess what we will be doing. The weather forecast looks promising. But, a couple of days of wet weather could spoil too many berries to make it worthwhile to try to pick. We always have a shortage of staff working on Sunday, and this Sunday I will most likely have family priorities taking me away from the orchard, with no one else available to manage the operation.
6. With the weather heating up, strawberry production is definitely dropping off! Strawberry plants do not do well in hot weather. Although the berry flavor and sweetness is still far better than that of store-bought berries, the average size of the fruit has become smaller, especially in our primary variety, Chandler, mainly due to abundance of berries on each plant. There are still some moderately large berries in some of the other less productive varieties .... usually enough each day to make the first customers very glad that they came early!
7. Because of the abundance of small berries and slightly imperfect berries (some from recent rain-related damage), we are continuing to offer this Monday thru Friday a discount of $2.50 per pound (instead of the regular $3.00/lb.) on pick-your-own purchases of 18 lbs. or more. This is to encourage customers to come out on our "slower" days, and help us get these "orphans" out of the field, before too many of them get over-ripe, begin to decay, possibly spoiling other berries, and making much more labor for our workers to try to keep the field clean.
8. Due to shortage of staff the rest of this week, we expect to stay open no later than 3:00 p.m. However, it has not been unusual for us to be open only 2 or 3 hours, when we have a lot of customers, and all the ripe fruit is picked early in the day. We do not allow customers to pick unripe fruit, since it will not ripen after it is picked, and it will have little, or no, flavor! Saturday is usually our busiest day ... providing that the weather is good ... and, therefore, is the day that we will be open the shortest length of time ... sometimes less than an hour!
Sunday, April 24, 2016, 6:50 p.m.
Monday looks like a terrific day for strawberry picking! The customer turn-out for picking today was very light. That means there were ripe berries left in the field today. These berries, combined with the additional berries ripening overnight, will provide an abundance for pickers Monday morning! Rain chances for Monday are only 10% .... the least chance all this coming week. Do you need more encouragement? How about this: Due to this unexpected abundance, and needing help from customers to come out and pick more berries, we are extending discounts for this Monday through Friday. Instead of $3.00 per pound, PYO customers will pay only $2.50/lb. when they pick 18 lbs. (3 boxes), or more. Time to make jam and stock up the freezer?
If you can't come Monday, the rest of the week also looks pretty good, with the volume of berries staying fairly substantial. There are light rain chances off and on all week, increasing Friday and Saturday. Just come prepared for an occasional shower.
Saturday, April 23, 2016, 2:15 p.m.
As expected, we had so many customers here when we opened this morning that we had to close the gate to any additional traffic after about one hour! Because we now have all the rest of the day for more berries to ripen, we will be able to open Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ..... but, again open only as long as we have enough ripe berries for picking.
The weather forecast this coming week appears to be much more favorable for strawberry picking than last week, when we had so many rainy days. The daily amount of ripe strawberry production seems to be dropping off somewhat. That amount right now is about 200 lbs. per day, which is more than adequate for our usual number of weekday, early morning pickers. Monday through Saturday we are open at 9:00 a.m., and frequently closing a little past noon, depending on when we run out of ripe berries for the day.
Friday, April 22, 2016, 4:00 p.m.
Fiesta Holiday in San Antonio, plus beautiful weather, meant many more customers today! Fortunately, we had an abundance of ripe berries today, because not many people had come out to pick on the previous rainy days. But, even with so many berries, we were picked out, and closed, in just two hours! There will probably be only half as much fruit ready to pick tomorrow, and most likely a whole lot more people wanting to come, since it is Saturday. We will open the gate at 9:00 a.m., and we would expect to have to close the gate in less than one hour, when we feel like there is not enough ripe fruit for any additional cars.
Our plans for whether or not to be open on Sunday are uncertain right now. We will decide after we see the result of picking on Saturday. Check back here Saturday evening or Sunday morning, in regards to a possible opening at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Thursday, April 21, 2016, 9:15 p.m.
Wow! Tomorrow and Saturday are the first days in over a week that we have not had rain in the weather forecast! The strawberry picking should be super! We will be open at 9:00 a.m. each of these two days, and, as always, it is best to get here early, when there is the best selection of ripe berries for the day. Tomorrow...Friday...will be the last day this week that we will be offering discounts on pick-your-own for quantities of 18 or more pounds ... $2.50/lb., instead of the regular $3.00/lb.
Saturday morning, April 2, 2016, 8:00 a.m.
NO FREEZE! Clear skies, bright sunshine, very little wind, and an estimated temperature of 50° at our 9:00 a.m. opening time! Perfect strawberry picking weather!
Friday evening, April 1, 2016, 7:15 p.m.
Freeze risk tonight! All of our crops are vulnerable...strawberries, peaches, tomato plants. We are gambling, and not covering our strawberry fields tonight, knowing that if we did cover, those covers would be wet in the morning, and we would not be able to remove them until they were dry, which would require several hours of sunshine, thus prohibiting customers from picking berries until late morning. Here's hoping we have made the right choice! The forecast is for a low temperature of 36°, but recently we have experienced actual temperatures 4 or 5 degrees lower than the forecast low, resulting in a couple of light freezes. We are counting on mostly cloudy skies, a light wind, and high humidity to keep the temperature from dropping all the way to the freeze point.
Come dressed warmly Saturday morning! When we open at 9:00 a.m., the temperature is forecast to be 42°, with a north breeze, and partly cloudy. Do come early! With today being overcast and cold all day, the strawberries didn't do much ripening! Our average daily harvest this week, Monday through Thursday, has been about 370 lbs. ..... our estimate of ripe berries for this Saturday is only about 250 lbs., and Saturdays are when we usually have our largest crowds. If we have a lot of people out early tomorrow, there is a very good chance that we will have to close well before noon, in order to prevent customers from picking unripe berries.
If we close before noon on Saturday, there is a very good possibility that we will be able to open again at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, because there will be more hours of sunshine all Saturday afternoon, to help ripen up a significant amount of fruit for the next day. When we allow customers to pick all the way to 5:00 p.m., there is much less opportunity for this ripening, in preparation for the next day. Check back here Saturday evening or Sunday morning to find out whether or not we will be open on Sunday afternoon.
And, if you can wait, and come during the week next week, you will likely find the berries very abundant every day, with not near as many people competing for the picking!
Thursday, March 31, 2016, 3:45 p.m.
Customers picked about 150 lbs. of strawberries this morning in less than three hours, before we closed around 11:30 a.m. The fields are getting lots of sunshine this afternoon, which should make for a very good supply of ripe berries, when we open again at 9:00 a.m. Friday morning. Since our workers will be picking much less fruit for orders tomorrow, than they have picked the last four day, I'm estimating that there should be 200 to 250 lbs. available for customer PYO on Friday morning. That will make the picking very easy for those arriving early!
Right now, we do not have any orders to pick ourselves on Saturday, and, with the current abundant daily yield in our Chandler variety, I'm expecting customers to have at least 400 pounds ready for picking that day.
As always, the question about whether or not we will be open on Sunday is determined by the amount, and the severity of the picking on Saturday. If late Saturday we feel like there can be an adequate amount of fruit ripe enough to pick the next day, we will open at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. If there is not enough, we will be closed on Sunday, giving the plants an extra day to catch up on ripening. All those decisions will be posted here.
Friday, March 25, 2016, 5:00 p.m.
As expected, today was HUGE! In less than 3 hours, just over 600 lbs. of strawberries were picked ... the most in any one day, so far, this season! Looking at the lighter color of many of the last berries to be picked, my workers believe that we stayed open too long, and let customers pick 200 more pounds of berries than we should have allowed. Instead of having an estimated 400 lbs. of berries for customers to pick on Saturday, we are now guessing we will have only 200 to 250 pounds of ripe berries. And, if we are rushed with as many customers as we had early today, we will most likely be finished picking, and have the gate closed by 11:00 a.m.
Thursday, January 28, 2016 (Earliest ever opening for PYO strawberries at Marburger Orchard!)
Our first attempt to allow customers to do pick-your-own strawberries for this season will be at 2:00 p.m. this Saturday, January 30th. We anticipate having no more than 50 to 100 lbs. of ripe berries for the day....that would be only 10 to 15 full berry boxes. We will allow picking until we feel like there are no more berries ripe enough to pick, or until 5:00 p.m., whichever comes first.
At the end of the day, we will evaluate the situation, and determine when we expect there to again be enough ripe berries to justify being open, without having customers frustrated at not finding adequate amounts to pick. If the traffic flow is light, we may be able to open for a few hours each day. If the traffic flow is heavy, it may be necessary to be closed several days between each picking, to allow for "recovery".
Although not very plentiful, these early berries are exceptionally large, and definitely sweet. With this earlier start, we are expecting a much longer than normal season, and we are hoping for more leveling out of the crop, rather than the extreme peak of volume that we have experienced most years from late March to mid-April.
***We wish to thank the following Fredericksburg restaurants for using our strawberries in their menus:
The Peach Tree
***We are experimenting with a fairly new agricultural concept....the use of "high tunnels" to alter the climate conditions for growing crops. A high tunnel is similar to a huge greenhouse, but normally without the advantage of heating or cooling, other than by closing or venting. I will try to post pictures, as time permits.
***Again this year, we will have for you excellent quality Nicaraguan coffee -- check back here in the coming weeks for more information about my family's involvement where it is grown, about the new "branding" of the coffee, and about the larger selection of products, which we will have available.
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Hours of Operation
Our "strawberry season hours" -- ripe fruit and weather conditions permitting -- are normally as follows (with frequent exceptions): 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.
Pick-Your-Own Strawberry Prices
Our pick-your-own price is $3.00 per pound for strawberries ($10.00 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; $4.00 per pound for 5 pounds or more in loose, bulk containers (best to order ahead)
(When we have pre-picked strawberries, the price is usually at least a dollar a pound more, unless they are discounted because they are smaller, less attractive, or over-ripe.)
(Our preferred method of payment is cash or check. However, we are now equipped to accept credit or debit cards, when customers are unprepared to pay otherwise.)
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Typical happenings at Marburger Orchard from previous years
(I will attempt to post current pictures and happenings as time permits!)
Our peach trees blooming in March, 2014!
(full bloom in 2015 was about one week later--around March 22-26)
Bounty peach trees in bloom 3/18/14
"2015 Peach Prospects"
(May 3, 2015)
It is still too early to try to estimate when the first peaches will be ripe this year. Our first variety is Regal, and so far it is not giving us any predictable indicators. My best guess is that it may start about May 20th, and last for one and a half to two weeks. When the peach season begins, I will start posting here my best estimates of when each variety will be ripening. Watch for those estimated dates to continually change week by week, as we observe changing conditions.
We had a severe freeze on March 6th, 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 could stand to lose a lot of that bloom, and essentially have a "full crop". Initially, I thought that we would still have a "fairly good" crop this year. However, during the last few weeks, we have seen some of the very small, developing peaches "shed", or drop off. My current assessment is that we will have a "light" peach crop this year. We have 10 different varieties, each ripening in its particular two week time period, from late May until early August. The amount of fruit is not consistent on all varieties. Some varieties may have a nearly full crop (like Regal), while other varieties may have an extremely light crop. Customers will need to be very vigilant about choosing their time to come pick!
(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.
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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.
October 16, 2014 Planting strawberries!
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 10 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.
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 or early May. 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.
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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, click on the links below to bed and breakfast accommodations available with "friends of Marburger Orchard".
Meusebach Creek Farm
Austin Street Retreat
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. If you think you should be getting an 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 e-mail address.
Important change in notifications: I am no longer mailing out
With almost everyone now using e-mail, the printing, labeling, and mailing of cards is no longer cost or time effective.
There may be additional e-mail notices
under special circumstances, such as unusual crop abundance, or limited
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 37 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