Standing behind a long table of bright green asparagus and red and white radishes, Ben Walker motioned at the vegetables.
“Everything is blooming,” said Walker, a Parker County grower who sells his fruits and vegetables at Cowtown Farmers Market in Fort Worth. “This looks like a tremendous year.”
Bolstered by spring showers and mild temperatures, area farmers say they expect bumper crops and overflowing markets. Asparagus and spring onions have arrived. Strawberries and blackberries are on the way, and tomatoes and peaches will soon follow.
Walker, co-owner of B&G Gardens, is so busy harvesting asparagus — about 300 pounds a day — he hardly has time to farm the rest of his land. Most years, the farm produces 300 pounds for only a week or two during peak production. This year is different.
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“We cannot cut down asparagus fast enough,” said Walker, adding that plums, apricots and yes, even peaches, should be in abundant supply. “I can’t even find time to fertilize my fruit trees.”
So far this year, North Texas has recorded 11.71 inches of precipitation, including 2.60 inches in April alone.
Drought conditions remain, but rain and snow have given the region a shot of much-needed moisture, said Anthony Bain, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
“The drought has been going on for so many years,” Bain said. “It will take awhile for vegetation to recover and to make up for the deficit.”
At TinTop Farms in Weatherford, the winter storm in February that dumped several inches of snow on North Texas moistened the soil and insulated underground crops, said owner Larry Marrs. Now, the rain has provided a bounty of lettuce, spinach, onions and kohlrabi, a thick-skinned member of the cabbage family.
To survive the drought, the market diversified in past years, adding products that do not rely as heavily on weather, including locally roasted coffee, more baked goods and cheeses, farmers said. On a recent Saturday morning, Marrs sold out of his vegetables at Cowtown Farmers Market in just a couple of hours.
“It has been a tough go these past few years with the dry weather,” said Marrs, who has farmed since the 1970s. “But this year is looking like one of the best I have ever seen. Let’s hope that continues.”
Parker County extension agent Jon Green said growers have reason to celebrate now that the region appears to have dodged any disastrous late freezes. In the past, he said, freezes in mid-April have destroyed once-promising peach crops.
“We are very optimistic at this point. It looks like a good year for peaches,” Green said. “Farmers are breathing easy now that we are out of the woods for a freeze.”
Not everyone is faring as well with the rain. At the Grapevine Farmers Market, which opened April 9, heavy showers have caused a delay in produce, like onions and greens, market manager Jack Morehead said. For now, farmers are selling plants, flowers and herbs, which are abundant, and citrus from South Texas.
“Some of our farmers can’t even get tractors in their fields because it’s so wet,” Morehead said. “You can occasionally have too much of a good thing.”
Sarah Bahari, 817-390-7056
Where to shop
A sampling of Tarrant County farmers markets:
Cowtown Farmers Market
▪ 3821 Southwest Blvd., Fort Worth
▪ 8 a.m.-noon on Saturdays; Will open Wednesdays in June
▪ Sells meats, breads, cheeses, eggs, soaps, herbs, plants, jams, jellies, relishes, fruits and veggies and more, all from with 150 miles.
Grapevine Farmers Market
▪ 325 Main Street, downtown Grapevine
▪ 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays
▪ Sells fruits and vegetables, pastries, jarred goods, olive oils and vinegars, plants and flowers.
Keller Farmers Market
▪ Keller Town Hall, 1100 Bear Creek Parkway, Keller
▪ Opens May 2, 8 a.m.-noon
▪ Sells fresh produce, meats, cheese, honey, eggs, baked goods and more, all from within 150 miles.
Mansfield Farmers Market
▪ 206 Smith St., downtown Mansfield
▪ Opens May 16, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
▪ Sells fruits and vegetables but also antiques, plants and flowers, processed foods and more.