Prolific peach produce
It’s has been a bumper crop thus far with Gillespie County’s most popular, iconic fruit — the peach.
Farmers say they are having a hard time keeping up with demand, as word has gotten out about this particularly solid crop this year. A winter of ample cold hours and rain helped kick start a peach season which should see fruit all summer.
And they are expecting the season to continue in high gear throughout all the season’s varieties.
The Duecker family, which operates Burg’s Corner in Stonewall, just brought in their Harvester Freestone peaches from the field.
“It’s a month and a half into the season and this is one of the best crops we’ve ever had. We’ll have peaches from May through Labor Day,” Katelyn Duecker said.
Duecker said unlike last year, in which crops suffered from lack of cold hours and tree dormancy, this growing season has “laid out perfectly.”
“Last year, we were basically done at Peach JAMboree time and this year, we’re right in the thick of it,” she said. “Everybody has a good amount of peaches.”
Katelyn and her sister, Kristen Duecker, are co-managing, third-generation growers, following their father, Jimmy Duecker, who is still active. Jimmy followed his late father, Edmund Duecker, into the business.
Burg’s Corner sells peaches and other seasonal fruits and vegetables, along with ice cream, other retail products and its own branded “Texas Hill Country” products.
Duecker added that the heat and dryness could eventually pose a problem.
“The biggest problem right now is a lack of rain. We need more to get more size and to ripen,” she said. “The varieties are hanging on the tree a little longer.”
And the store is a popular stop in Stonewall for both locals and travelers.
“We have people coming out from everywhere — Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona — a ton of daily people coming to get peaches or ice cream,” she said. This year, the family has been able to accommodate the roadside sellers in other communities by offering wholesale peaches to growers in Austin, San Marcos, San Antonio and beyond, the ones with the “Fredericksburg Peaches” signs.
‘Word is out’
Donald Eckhardt Orchards opened its new building on May 10 and traffic has been steady at its new location on U.S. 87 South, just north of Fritztown Cinema, said Diane Eckhardt, another third-generation grower with her sister, Debbie.
“The traffic has been better than expected and we have heard that from other growers, as well,” she said. “Word is out that it’s a good season.”
The larger building has helped visibility for her, having moved the operation from a small stand on the east side of the highway to a larger, metal building on the west side, she said. Eckhardt said though it’s a bumper crop, farmers could use some moisture.
“We’re very pleased with the crop, but right now we’re wanting to see some rain,” she said. “The rain we had in May really helped the early varieties.
“The trees are looking good, but we could always use a one- to three-inch rain — no one would complain about that.”
The Eckhardt stand also carries some other fruit, vegetables and berries, as well as Fredericksburg Farms products and honey products from Haskell. Eckhardt said they also carry a few farmhouse antiques at their location.