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Cold winter means tasty Texas peaches

This past cold winter has provided Texas peach growers with an excellent crop. Plenty of chill hours and sufficient moisture at the right time has resulted in good yields and high quality fruit. There was also the absence of a late spring freeze, which in some years can cause terrible damage to the crop. 

"We had good winter chill hours this season, with a little over 1000 hours," explained Jamey Vogel of Vogel Orchard just outside Fredericksburg. "We need 850 - 900 hours for our highest chill varieties. Combined with a good amount of winter and spring moisture, we are enjoying a strong crop. It's not quite a bumper crop, however it is much better than last year when we experienced little chill and a significantly reduced crop."

Jamey Vogel and his wife, Terri

The first varieties of the season have almost finished being harvested as growers prepare to move on to the next phase. Recent days have seen temperatures rise into the 100s which has eased ripening. "We are just finishing up the Clingstone varieties and moving into the Semi-free, before starting Freestones in about ten days," Vogel added. "Ripening has slowed down in recent weeks because it has been hotter and drier. But this is only temporary until we get some rain, which tends to cool things off. The peak of our season is late June to late July when we have our most favored freestone varieties and corresponding high retail demand."

Why Texas does not have a large scale peach industry
The Hill Country in Central Texas is renowned for the quality of its peaches, thanks to the rich soil and ideal weather conditions. However, the industry remains local and there is very little presence in the broader market. Vogel explained that the climate plays a big part, as it tends to be unreliable for large market expectations. 

"The climate can be variable in this region," he began. "Some years we have a cold winter, some years we don't. Growers generally count in a seven year cycle, in which we typically have two bumper years, three or four lower than average to moderate years, and one or two years when there are very poor yields. As a result, the Central Texas peach industry is not widely commercialized."

"It does, however, have a strong local presence, and this stems from the high quality fruit that is produced," Vogel continued. "We sell most of our crop through retail, as well as to fruit stands and local markets. We are also now seeing a burgeoning tourism industry which, along with the fine wineries in the area, is boosting the local produce industry." 

Some consumers loyal to certain varieties
Vogel Orchard grows about 20 different peach varieties, which ripen progressively from mid-May through to August. Naturally, there are many people who have their own preference and Vogel said there are some varieties that are more requested than others.

"We get a lot of demand for specific peach varieties," he shared. "Some of the more in demand varieties include the Loring, Dixiland, Red Globe, Harvester, and the Cary Mac, to name a few. Redskin and the Ruston Red are examples of some of the other more popular varieties."

For more information:
Jamey Vogel
Vogel Orchard
Tel: +1 (830) 644-2404

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