Texas is looking at approximately 25 percent of a full peach crop this season. “We’re not going to have a very strong crop of Texas peaches. Mostly our early, low-chill clingstones have good settings but once we get into the freestones, it’s pretty weak,” says Jamey Vogel of Vogel Orchard.
There are a few reasons for this. Drought conditions that have been ongoing since the fall of 2021 are partly to blame, though Vogel notes the drought conditions are getting better. “There was also not enough winter chill and we had a very deep drop in temperature after some warm temperatures back just before Christmas. We think that killed some buds as well,” he says.
While current weather conditions look good, Vogel remains watchful for thunderstorm threats until the end of May. “In drought conditions, we tend to get thunderstorms as well rather than extended rains,” he adds.
In turn, this means the low chill varieties have started slightly earlier while the more moderate chill varieties are as per normal. “We’ve started now and we usually go until mid-August though some growers go until around Labor Day,” says Vogel. “However from mid-June on, the crop is going to be pretty weak. There are only three to four freestone varieties that have a decent setting on them and we usually start freestones around mid-June.”
That said, Vogel does anticipate good retail demand. “Most of our production here is retail and we’re trying to encourage our good retail customers to come early in the season this year and not wait for the later freestones,” he says.
As for pricing, it should be stronger than last year given the combination of a weaker crop and increased production costs. “I think as we get into those freestone varieties, there won’t be any wholesale anymore. Everything is going to be retail and mostly smaller quantities so that will keep the price up,” says Vogel.