36 Years of Quality Fruit & Memorable Experiences
Big, beautiful strawberries are now ripening!
Strawberries becoming more plentiful!
Peach trees now finishing their bloom.
Something new at the orchard -- Nicaraguan coffee -- more information below about my family's involvement where it is grown.
Sunday evening, March 29, 2015
Our customers picked some great berries this weekend, and the berries should be even more abundant this week! We will open each day, Monday through Saturday, at 9:00 a.m., and, hopefully, with so many berries now ripening, we should be able to stay open all day to 5:00 p.m., most days. The exception may be next Friday (holiday) and Saturday, when we may have so many customers that we run out of ripe berries before the end of the day, and close early.
There is a slight possibility of rain almost every day this week, but a greater chance this next weekend. You might want to plan to come out the earlier part of the week, to avoid the crowds, and to have less chance of getting "rained out".
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 12:00 noon
Sold out and closed for the rest of today...open again Sunday at 1:00 p.m. We had over 300 pounds picked this morning, before we closed at 11:00 a.m. More fruit will ripen, and be ready to pick tomorrow, but we estimate that there will be only about 150 pounds. We may be closed before 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Friday, March 27, 2015, 7:25 p.m.
Saturday morning will probably be "short and sweet"...come early. Our strawberry fields are still holding back on the heavy production. We expect around 200 pounds of ripe berries for picking on Saturday, which will probably take only a couple of hours for our customers to pick, if the traffic is as much as we anticipate. When it is finished, we will close for the day. 800 to 1000 pounds per day will be the average in another week or two.
By closing early on Saturday, there should be adequate time for about the same amount of fruit to ripen and be ready to pick again starting at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. If you can wait to come next week on a weekday, the production each day will be greater than it is now.
Caution: If you are planning to come next Friday (Good Friday holiday), be prepared for a big crowd! This day is typically our busiest day of the strawberry season. We will try to be open again that following Saturday, but the selection and amount of ripe berries could be greatly reduced by the Friday pickers. We will be trying to stay closed on Easter Sunday, since we prefer not to ask our employees to work that day. However, if we have an over-abundance of ripe berries that must get picked that day, to keep from spoiling, we will be open....we will probably not be able to make that decision until the Saturday afternoon before.
March 6, 2015
Good news/Bad news! The good news is that in spite of the temperature getting down to 19° in the orchard last night, the peach crop doesn't look like it was hurt much. The peach flower buds are for the most part pretty tightly closed, and, therefore probably suffered very little damage. We are very thankful for all the unusually cold weather the past couple of weeks, which has served to slow down the opening of the peach blooms. We do expect the peach trees to be in full bloom about two weeks from now, and any freezes during and after that time could cause loss of all or part of this summer's crop.
Now, the bad news. This same cold weather has significantly delayed the beginning of our strawberry season. There will be very few strawberries ripening each day for the next several weeks. Because of that, once we start (possibly, Monday, March 9), we expect to be open only a few days each week, and probably for only a few hours on each of those days...when there is no fruit to pick, we are closed! It is difficult to predict, much in advance, which days we will be open, since we expect to continue to have to dodge bad weather days. The best we can offer right now is to suggest that you keep watching this website for daily advisories, and, when you see a date that we plan to open, possibly call us to try to set up an appointment to come that day (so we don't have too many people trying to pick on the same day).
Right now, judging by the stage of the blooms on the strawberry plants, it looks like there will not be an abundance of berries for picking until late March, and early April. Also, this developing crop (3 to 4 weeks from now) just got reduced by about 50%. Although we have had covers over the plants most of the last couple of weeks, we did have a lot of the current bloom get killed by the hard freezes this week...they are usually safe under the covers down to about 25°......19° was too much! I know that many of you, with children, were hoping to come during Spring Break (the next two weeks, depending on the school district). We had hopes that we would be able to be open for you this year by that time, when often we are not. But, the weather has changed that.
March 3, 2015
There are not yet enough strawberries ripening to satisfy our pick-your-own customers. We will be trying to open for some picking the week of March 9-14. However, there will still not be enough ripe fruit to be open every day, and the days that we are open may be for only a few hours. It is too early to set specific days and hours. Check back here next week, close to the days you are trying to come.
There are several reasons for the current scarcity of ripe berries:
1) This is still very early in our strawberry season, and the amount of fruit will continue to increase during the next several weeks.
2) The unusually cold, cloudy weather during the last two weeks has slowed the rate of ripening berries. This is also causing us difficulty in predicting next week's opening.
3) Chandler is our primary strawberry variety, and composes about 80% of our planting this year. Chandler did not start producing enough blooms to justify using frost covers until 3 or 4 weeks ago. Those few blooms at that time are just now getting close to maturity as ripe berries -- therefore, very, very few berries to pick in the vast majority of our fields for right now. Our current production is coming almost entirely from only 7 rows. These rows are varieties that we have not had the last several years. They are varieties that began producing significantly more blooms than Chandler back in January, and, therefore made it economically feasible for us to experiment with covering much earlier than is typical here.
For our customers who are concerned about the peach crop for this year -- all this miserable, cold weather right now is a good thing! Unlike strawberries, peaches get only one chance to bloom and produce a crop. Our peach trees are normally in full bloom about mid-March. Right now those flower buds are beginning to swell, just before opening. The colder weather is slowing down this bud-break, thus reducing the vulnerability to any possible late freezes during the next several weeks.
October 16, 2014
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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 $2.90 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; $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.)
(Sorry, we do not accept credit or debit cards -- cash or check only.)
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Premium Nicaraguan Coffee!
Marburger Orchard is very pleased to announce that we currently have, for our friends and customers, a very good supply of fresh, whole bean coffee from Nicaragua. We have both a Light Roast and a Dark Roast. It was harvested, and roasted on the farm within the last few weeks (January - February, 2015) -- it doesn't get any fresher than that! We're selling it for a suggested donation of $12.00 per one pound bag.
Why on earth are we selling coffee?
Here's the background story: Two years ago (after serving six years in the Dominican Republic) my daughter, Sara, and my son-in-law, Joey Espinoza, and my three grandchildren, moved to Nicaragua as missionaries. Joey's task has been to coordinate the design and construction of additions to the Young Life camp in the mountains there. The camp is situated on a large coffee farm, and the income from the coffee is used to help pay for scholarships for kids to come to camp, who would otherwise not be able to afford to do so.
Last year, my son, Josh Marburger, joined Joey and Sara in their endeavors for seven months, and while he was there the Young Life organization recruited him to take on a newly-created marketing position for their coffee, utilizing his twelve previous years of marketing experience with a large corporation here in the U.S.
So, now you can see how "Dad" has a vested interest in this wonderful ministry!
When you purchase this coffee, know that you are not only getting exceptional coffee, but you are helping change lives -- not only the lives of the many Nicaraguan kids, who may be getting a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but also the lives of the workers and their families, who farm and harvest the coffee.
The coffee is currently marketed under the brand "Beyond Beans". Here is their statement:
For more information, check these websites:
Beyond Beans -- http://beyondbeanscoffee.com/
Young Life Camp, Nicaragua (La Finca - Campamento Vida Joven) -- http://www.facebook.com/LaFincaVidaJoven
Young Life International -- http://www.younglife.org/Pages/default.aspx
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What else is happening at Marburger Orchard?
Our peach trees blooming in March last year!
(full bloom this year will be about one week later--around March 22-26)
Bounty peach trees in bloom 3/18/14
"2014 Peach Prospects"
(posted April 2014)
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.
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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.
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, click on the links below to bed and breakfast accommodations available with "friends of Marburger Orchard".
Commanders Place/Nevels House
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. 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 36 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