Fredericksburg peaches are ready — earlier than ever

Peach season typical runs from mid-May through the first week of August, but in some years, the growers start harvesting as early as late April and the first week of May. Photo by Mauri Elbel.

Peach season typical runs from mid-May through the first week of August, but in some years, the growers start harvesting as early as late April and the first week of May. Photo by Mauri Elbel.

We usually think of peaches in summer, but here in Central Texas, we know that “summer” starts earlier than everywhere else.

And this year, summer has started even earlier for the Fredericksburg peach growers.

According to TexasPeaches.com, last weekend was officially the opening weekend for the famed Gillespie County crop, which has slowly been replaced by wineries as the primary reason tourists visit the regional west of Austin.

The Hill Country Fruit Council, which runs the site, says that this will be the first time in 20 years that the growers will have had three consecutive years of good peaches. “While the crop is not as strong as 2015, we should have a similar crop to 2014. The early end of winter resulted in less chilling hours than ideal, thereby limiting the crop on some varieties, but it also is bringing us an early start to the harvest season,” the site reports.

Vogel Orchard, one of the many growers who maintain peach stands along U.S. 290 between Johnson City and Fredericksburg, says that they are already harvesting JuneGold peaches a full 10 days before they normally do.

These are the clingstone peaches, whose flesh sticks to the pit. Semi-freestones will ripen in late May or early June and the freestones come in June and July. “Please keep in mind that due to the early end of winter conditions, most varieties will be ripening ahead of their normal schedule,” the orchard said in a newsletter to customers. They post the ripening schedule on their website vogelorchard.com.

Vogel also grows plums and blackberries, which will be available in the next week or two.

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