34 Years of Quality Fruit & Memorable Experiences
Peaches last summer
The orchard is not yet open for this year.
We hope to re-open with strawberries around
(This is the first update for 2014 -- we will be adding more information soon.)
Monday, March 3, 2014
This is the first new posting since late last summer. We are not yet open for this year. The previous two years we were open by now with strawberries ready to be picked. Because this winter has been colder, our strawberries will be later getting started this year. The plants are looking great, and they are starting to produce a lot of blooms. There is also a fair amount of developing fruit from blooms that came out starting several weeks ago.
However, we had a very hard freeze last night -- 19°! We cover the fields with huge "blankets" before any night, when we are expecting a freeze, to protect the tender blooms and the fruit (the plants, themselves are very hardy), and this was done yesterday, before the cold front arrived. Since we are expecting more freezing weather over the next several days, we will not remove the covers until later this week. At that time, we will be able to make an assessment of the damage, and an estimate of when we will have enough fruit to open for customer picking (possibly 2 or 3 weeks from now).
When we do open for this season, there will be frequent postings here of any new information about the condition and availability of the crop.
For those of you concerned about the effect of the most recent freeze on the peach crop: Since most of the flower buds on our peach trees are still closed up pretty tight, I'm not anticipating any significant damage from today's freeze. The danger comes once the blooms are open (another week or two), and anytime after that. If we did have any damage last night, hopefully it did no more than give us a light thinning of the crop, which is a good thing!
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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(report posted in early May, 2013 -- I'm leaving this information here for now, for historical reference -- hopefully, 2014 will be a much better year!)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.
Hours of Operation
Now closed. Open again, with regular hours, when strawberries are ready to start harvesting in late February or early March (depending on protection from freezes).
Visits to the orchard during the "off season" by appointment only.
(to be posted here soon, when we are ready to open for strawberries)
(Sorry, we do not accept credit or debit cards -- cash or check only.)
What else is happening at Marburger Orchard?
(posted last year)
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.
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". I hope to have links posted here by mid-March.
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 34 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