With more than a million peach trees spread across the state producing in excess of one million bushels a year, peach production in Texas has become a significant specialty crop for many growers. But the temperamental nature of the delicate fruit and extensive sensitivity to climate makes peach production a risky proposition.

But Gary Marburger’s orchard just west of Fredericksburg is proof that the right combination of good soil, ample water, favorable weather, and hard work can make for a profitable operation for a determined grower. While still early in the growing season, the prospect for success this year looks promising.

“Several things have fallen into place so far this year. While January was an exceptionally warm month for us, a cool November and December provided us with enough chilling weather to break dormancy and induce a normal bloom,” Marburger says. “Combined with good winter rains, we are hopeful this will be a good peach year.”

Peaches have a chilling requirement of a certain number of hours of winter temperatures between 32 degrees to 45 degrees Fahrenheit each year to break dormancy and induce normal bloom and vegetative growth. If varieties have a chilling requirement that is too low, the probability is higher that they will bloom early and be more vulnerable to frost. If the chilling requirement is too high, they may be very slow to break dormancy and abort fruit.  Marburger says early winter chilling was just right to satisfy the requirements of his varieties.

Marburger Orchard is largely a pick-your-own farm-to-consumer operation servicing the San Antonio and Austin markets. Any given weekend during harvest season, thousands of customers travel the narrow back roads of Gillespie County to locate what many call the freshest fruit and vegetables in Texas. Marburger also grows strawberries, blackberries and vegetables in season, but his Hill Country peaches, sweet and succulent to the most discriminating taste, are his featured product.