Every couple of minutes a car will slow down, turn off of Highway 290, and park in a plain gravel lot on the side of the road. Families, couples and those traveling alone, all stop for the same reason — peaches. Gold Orchards, Inc. sells all sorts of produce, but this time of year, people have only one fruit in mind — and they’ll go the distance to get it.
The heavy rains that left many Texas businesses and homeowners struggling this spring also came with one unique benefit — the best peaches Texans have tasted in five years. Longer cooling times over night and more rain led to better peach growth and greater yields of the fruit. Jessica Domel is the field editor for Texas Farm Bureau.
“This year, because of the moisture, there are larger peaches, but when the sun came out and hit them that sugar quality was at its peak. So, we’re still seeing really good, sweet peaches, they’re just a little bit bigger because we’ve had more rain,” Domel says.
Farmers have been profiting from the weather as well. At least that’s what Rick Priess says. He co-owns Gold Orchards, Inc. along with his wife Luanna. “We’re almost sold out, so it’s been really good. We don’t normally run out, unless it’s a light year like in 2011. The demand was there, it’s just we didn’t have the supply,” Priess says.
The orchards, and their storefront, are located in Stonewall, Texas. Priess says the past few years haven’t been easy for the couple. During the five previous seasons of drought, they had to up production of other crops to make up for the lack of peaches. “In 2013 we planted some extra tomato plants. We do have a kitchen here, locally at our stand, and we started doing more baking; pies, cobblers. We do freeze peaches, so we had them throughout that year,” he says. “Last year, we ended up starting 2014 with nothing in our freezers, cause we’d used them all.”
But now Golden Orchards can refill its freezers with this year’s peaches — which will keep the patrons coming. And what are customers saying about the season’s peaches? They’re to die for.