WEATHERFORD -- After last year's extreme drought took a toll on the peach crop, this year's harvest will be good, said Gary Hutton of Hutton Farms, the largest peach producer in Parker County.Drought-breaking spring rains brought relief to his 60-plus-acre farm, where peaches are the primary crop."We have a lot of customers traveling back and forth during the year, and they say they can't wait until they see that open sign; some stop ahead of time just to check," Hutton said.The peach harvest began in Parker County last month, and farmers statewide are also reporting that peaches are maturing early and crops are looking good, according to AgriLife Extension Service.Ben Walker and Greg Johnson of Fort Worth, who farm as B and G Garden Llc., couldn't pick the peaches fast enough from about 180 trees on an acre and a half in Poolville."We've had a really good year," Walker said. "There was a tremendous plum and apricot crop also. It was very little winter this year and every bloom on every tree set."The abundant harvest means things should be just peachy in downtown Weatherford on Saturday, as the 28th annual Parker County Peach Festival begins. It features peach pie, ice cream and cobbler, and vendors will offer peach cotton candy, peach cinnamon buns and even peach juleps.The festival draws peach fans from across Texas and neighboring states.Hutton Farms grows 12 varieties of peaches, prolonging the season because they ripen at different times."We will be harvesting all the way to Labor Day," Hutton said. "I've had some all the way into October -- it depends on the year -- the later varieties can be a little different each year."Walker said he and Johnson pulled about 350 bushels of six peach varieties already, selling them at local farmers markets. He estimates they have about 150 bushels left in three varieties."I don't know how many we'll be taking to Peach Festival," he said. "We'll also bring other produce, probably peas, squash and tomatoes."Gary Hutton and his brother, Jimmy, run the Hutton farm, along with eight relatives.Their father, Charles Hutton, 78, bought the family's first orchard 35 years ago while working at Bell Helicopter. He gave his sons a choice: They could go to college or he could buy the farm."The boys had to have that place," Charles Hutton said. "They wanted it instead of college."Lance Winter, 817-594-9902, ext. 102
Hutton Farms Fruit Stand: 210 Greenwood Cut-Off Road, Weatherford; 817-594-1273. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.