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Craving peaches? Here's how to pick out the best in Texas

Parker County peach farmer reveals the secret to getting the tastiest peach

"You really need to use just about all of your senses," said Garry Hutton, one of the owners of Hutton Peach Farm outside of Weatherford. "I guess you don't hearing but that comes in handy with a watermelon."
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"You really need to use just about all of your senses," said Garry Hutton, one of the owners of Hutton Peach Farm outside of Weatherford. "I guess you don't hearing but that comes in handy with a watermelon."

For some it's all about the look.

Others will say it's all about the touch.

While some are searching for that "peachy smell" as they enter a farmer's market.

All of it is done in the search for the perfect peach.

"A peach should smell a lot like it tastes," said Garry Hutton, one of the owners of Hutton Peach Farm outside of Weatherford. "It's kind of hard to describe what you're looking for but you'll know it when you find it."

Across Texas, it's that time of year again.

Peach season is in full swing and there's plenty of the fruit that signals summer has officially arrived across the state.

“Texas weather over the winter and spring months provided optimal growing conditions for a flavorful, abundant crop,“ said Mabrie Jackson, a spokeswoman for H-E-B/Central Market.

One of the growers that provides peaches to DFW-area Central Market is enjoying a dramatic rebound after a dismal season last year.

"It's not hard to beat last year," said Clay Holifield, of Cooper Farms in Freestone County southeast of Dallas. "This looks like it could be one of our best years."

Holifield has his own advice for finding the best peach and it involves a little Lone Star pride.

"Buying Texas definitely helps," Holifield said. "Those out-of-state peaches have to be shipped so far it's hard to keep the flavor."

Peaches are also plentiful in East Texas and the Hill Country this year.

At the Hutton's Peach Farm, many peaches are running about two to three weeks behind schedule because of the dry weather. But the good news is peaches will likely stick around until Labor Day this year.

The popular freestone variety of peaches will be ready for picking around July 4th, which means plenty will be available for the Parker County Peach Festival in Weatherford on July 14.

The only problem with this year's crop is the lack of rain.

At both of the Hutton's orchards in Parker County, they're irrigating to help the fruit grow larger.

"But you can only water so much," Hutton said. 'What we need is a good rain."

Even without a welcome downpour, there will be plenty of peaches to go around. A stroll through Hutton's orchard found hundreds of peaches hidden under the leaves of trees that will grow and get color in the coming weeks.

"Some of these varieties will get close to one pound," Hutton said. "And they'll have plenty of flavor."

Where there were once a group of fruit stands around the Huttons orchard west of Weatherford, most have disappeared. There's only a handful left in the county with the Huttons providing most of the peaches.

But the family, which now has a third generation involved in the business, has thrived by diversifying. They have pecan trees, run cattle and have a honey operation that's more profitable than the fruit business. Recently, they bought a catfish farm in East Texas.

"And that place has some timber on it so that's one more thing we've got," Hutton said with a chuckle.

So unlike some of his former peach-growing neighbors, Hutton said the family business will probably be around for years to come.

"You get a sense of satisfaction that you've produced something," Hutton said. "It's hard but it's rewarding. There's definitely some pride in that."

Hutton Peach Farm in Weatherford is bringing in a nice crop for the Parker County Peach Festival.





Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna
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