Texas fruit season looks above average for producers

A Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert thinks the harvest has gone quite well so far for fruit producers this season. Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension fruit specialist, Uvalde, said late freezes, spring storms and heavy rains have not negatively affected most orchards and warm-season fruit varieties this season. Peach and blackberry producers around the state have been reporting above-average yields and quality.

“The freezes thinned some early varieties, but the late-producing varieties still needed thinning,” he said. “The crop looks good.”

Peach growers in the Hill Country region began harvesting in May and later-producing varieties are typically available through August, Stein said. Harvest of varieties in North and East Texas is in full swing, and peaches should be available at local markets through Labor Day.

Stein said high moisture levels required growers be vigilant regarding fungal and bacterial diseases, but there were no reports of major losses attributed to outbreaks. Some orchards reported heavy stinkbug infestations, which required more attention than is typical.

Rains were spotty, delivering high volumes to some areas and not much to others, Stein said. But the overall moisture levels also make Stein optimistic about next year.

“In years where trees are under drought stress in June and July during flower initiation we typically see a lot of doubles the next year,” he said. “Doubles are when the tree produces two flowers per bud – twin peaches – so you have two small peaches rather than one big peach. It lessens size and quality. The moisture conditions are good, so theoretically there is less chance of that happening next year.”

This season is shaping up as a good one for consumers as wells, Stein said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service reported peaches in the South Central U.S., which includes Texas, were comparable to last year.

Retail prices were $1.56-$2.98 per pound compared to $1.95-$2.99 per pound in 2018, according to the service’s June reports.

“The market is good,” Stein told ntxe-news.com. “Sellers are getting their prices, but based on the quality, the consumers are getting a good deal as well. There should be no shortage of good fruit for cobblers and canning and preserves.”

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