37 Years of Quality Fruit & Memorable Experiences
2016 Strawberry Season is Earliest Ever!
We now have a few strawberries ripening each day. However, there are not yet enough for us to be open for pick-your-own on a unlimited basis. 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, February 9, 2016
You may have noticed that Sunday I said the berries were now abundant. And then today, I'm saying "not so much so". Welcome to the frustrating life of a farmer, trying to out-guess nature! The rate of production is increasing....just not as fast as we thought. We did have a lot of berries picked this past weekend, and the cooler than normal temperatures may have slowed down ripening on the next berries.
Therefore, we are now cautioning customers to be here when we open, in order to get in on the picking of the limited amount of ripe fruit each day. There is a very good probability that we will only be able to stay open two or three hours each day, until the production increases significantly. We also have a greater demand from our restaurants this week for strawberries, due to Valentine's Day. We said several days ago that we plan to be open for Valentine's Day, this coming Sunday, and we will do whatever we need to do to make that happen, in spite of a somewhat limited amount of fruit. Hopefully, warmer weather the next several days will encourage better fruit ripening. If necessary, we will close early on Saturday....maybe around noon....in order to insure that there will be berries for picking on Sunday. If you are coming either Saturday or Sunday, it is definitely important that you arrive at opening time (1:00 p.m. on Sunday).
Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 11:00 a.m.
CLOSED FOR THE REST OF TODAY! Sorry folks, we are already picked out of ripe berries for today. More berries ripen each day, and we recommend being here at opening time each day, particularly when the volume is not as plentiful right now, as it will be later on.
Sunday night, February 7, 2016
Great strawberry picking this week! The daily production of ripe berries is now abundant, and increasing! And, the size of the berries is incredible, which will not be the case a few weeks from now!
The weather looks very favorable every day this week....mornings will be a little cool early in the week, but temperatures will be warming late week. We will be open at 9:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and, in spite of increasing traffic, we expect to have enough berries each day to remain open until 5:00 p.m. However, if you can't come out until afternoon, call first (830-997-9433), to be sure that we will not be closing early for that day. Remember, if you want to have the best selection, come early in the day, before too many other people have picked.
Ladies....now might be the time to hint to your guys that instead of flowers and chocolates for Valentine's Day, they can take you strawberry picking! (open Sunday, February 14th, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.)
Saturday, February 6, 2016, 2:30 p.m.
CLOSED FOR THE REST OF TODAY! We had a very good customer turn-out this morning, with approximately 125 pounds of strawberries getting picked. This pretty much exhausted all of the ripe berries in two of our three fields. We have closed early today to insure that we will have at least some berries for customers to pick on Sunday. We will open at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, with probably no more than about 50 pounds of ripe berries. If we have the amount of traffic that I'm expecting, we will most likely be "picked out" and closed within the first two hours.
More and more berries will be ripening each day this coming week. So, if you cannot come out Sunday, you might actually find better picking during the week...just be sure to come out early in the day, before all the ripe berries for that day are gone.
Friday, February 5, 2016, 6:30 p.m.
Amazing huge strawberries!! Ready to be picked Saturday! Due to very few people coming out to pick this week, we have a good supply of ripe berries for this weekend....we estimate about 150 pounds (an exceptional amount for this early in the season)....enough to possibly fill 25 to 30 boxes.
Although we will open the gate at 9:00 a.m., we may not be able to remove our frost protection covers before 10:00. Give us time to do that, and we should be ready for you by mid-morning. We will stay open as long as there are still ripe berries to be picked, possibly all the way to our posted 5:00 p.m. closing time.
We expect to have enough additional ripe berries to allow us to open again at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.
It looks like both Saturday and Sunday will be sunny, rain-free, a little cool, and very breezy....come dressed appropriately, and it should be a perfect strawberry picking day!
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Brrrrrrr!!! Spring is gone, and winter is back! And that is a very good thing for our peach trees, which still need a few more weeks of chilling weather in order to be healthy, and produce a good crop this summer.
If you are planning to come out to pick strawberries anytime in the next 6 to 7 days, come dressed warmly. It looks like most days will be clear and sunny (with very little chance of rain), but the weather will be breezy and chilly, with early morning temperatures in the 30's, and highs for the day most likely not getting above 55°. Since we expect to be near, or below, freezing every night for the next 7 days, we will have our frost protection covers over the strawberry plants every night. And, because we cannot remove those covers until they dry the next morning, we are encouraging customers, during this time, to wait to come until late morning, when the fields will be ready for picking. We have said that we would probably be closing around noon each day, Monday through Saturday, due to shortage of staffing, and lack of abundance of ripe fruit each day. However, with the later starts each day right now, we will try to stay open for customers until about 2:00 p.m. When the fruit starts to become more abundant in a few weeks, we should be able to extend our hours to most of each day.
We will be particularly short on staff this Thursday or Friday. My field workers will be having to assist customers at the sales shed, as well as accomplish their many other tasks. Please be patient with them. If no one is at the shed when you arrive, they probably have seen you, and will be there, out of the field, within a minute or two. Also, they will not be able to run credit cards those two days--please come with cash or check.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
So far, the pick-your-own customer traffic has been so light each day, that it has not been difficult for everyone to fill their boxes. The average berry size is exceptionally large right now, but the daily volume of ripe berries is still only a very small percentage of what it will be at the peak of the season in another few weeks. For that, and other logistical reasons, we plan to be open the remainder of this week (through Saturday) mornings only, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings look like they will be cold early, but sunny and fairly comfortable later in the morning. Saturday looks like it will be the least desirable day....cloudy, cool, windy, and a 50% chance of rain.
If we have a heavier than expected picking any one of these days, we may have to be closed entirely the following day, to allow for adequate ripening of more berries. Be sure to always check back here the night before you are planning to come, to see if there have been any last minute changes to our situation.
Saturday, January 30, 2016, 6:30 p.m.
Good news! Our early strawberry crop is apparently still pretty much a secret to most of our customers...we had a very, very light turnout today, our first PYO day of this season.
Therefore, we will attempt to be open on a limited basis each day of this coming week, starting tomorrow, Sunday, January 31st. We will open at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, and remain open until 5:00 p.m., if the number of pickers continues to be light. Monday through Saturday the gate will open at 9:00 a.m., with an anticipated closing each day around noon. At the moment, we are short on staff, with many other tasks to attend to in the field, which makes it more difficult to be open for customers the entire day.
The weather looks very good all week, with the exception of a couple of windy, cool days later in the week. Sunday and Monday look fantastic...unseasonably warm! We will have to cover the strawberries several nights to protect from light freezes, but we should be able to open up enough rows for customers to start picking by 9:00 a.m.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
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: 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