Eating a ripe, juicy peach — from a fruit stand along a country road or from a farmer's market or inside a grocery store — is a summertime ritual for many Texans.
While we can get peaches and most produce all year round, the best chance to eat homegrown fruits and vegetables at their peak is knowing their typical season.
Seasonal eating — making meals around foods that have just been harvested at just the right time — isn't a new trend. It was the norm before large-scale agriculture changed the way we eat.
Keep reading to learn more about what produce is in season, where Texas produce comes from and how homegrown food could benefit your health, the environment and the economy.
'Tis the season
Some foods grown in Texas, like greens, herbs and squash, are available throughout the year, but other crops, like pumpkins and berries, are available just a couple months out of the year.
Explore the table below to see the typical seasons for fruits and vegetables in Texas.
Where produce grows
Texas leads the nation in the number of farms and ranches. They spread across more than 130 million acres of land. Since Texas stretches far and wide with wetlands on one side and desert on the other, certain produce can only grow in select areas of the state. But some fruits and vegetables grow well in several parts of Texas.
Here's where you can get homegrown produce.
Here's more about each region, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture.
- High Plains: Flat, grassy region that includes the Texas Panhandle. Known for hard winter wheat, cotton and grain sorghum crops.
- North Texas: Region sees mild winters, hot summers and frequent storms in the spring.
- East Texas: Humid, subtropical climate with occasional cold air from the north.
- Central Texas: Known for hilly grassland, plateaus and large rock formations. Home to several native types of vegetation.
- Coastal Bend: Includes counties along the Gulf of Mexico. The area is a plain dissected by streams and rivers. It's home to many wildlife and plant species.
- Rio Grande Valley: Floodplain that has several lakes that once were part of the Rio Grande River; strong citrus and vegetable production because of its warm weather and rich soil.
- Winter Garden: Southwestern portion of the state; known for year-round vegetable production.
- Trans-Pecos: West Texas has wide-open spaces, plateaus, desert and mountains. Soils at different elevations support diverse vegetation and wildlife.
The harvest for the state’s fruits and vegetables varies. Unlike last year, peach season in Texas should be plentiful.
The San Antonio Express-News reports the Hill Country orchards got the "chill hours" necessary to push buds out of dormancy so they can blossom.
"We're really happy with the crop. It's really nice, really tasty," grower Russ Studebaker told the Express-News. "Everybody's got plenty of peaches."
Texas peaches are typically available through September, according to the state's agriculture department.
There are benefits to seasonal eating. Produce picked at its peak has more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than foods picked before they’re ripe and shipped long distances, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Eating seasonally often means eating locally, which benefits local farmers who produce the food. The Dallas Morning News produced a video about a Denton County farm that's adapting a new way to farm all year.
Most Texas farms and ranches are family farms, partnerships or family-held corporations, according to the state's agriculture department.
Eating seasonally also benefits the environment because local food doesn’t have to travel far to get to a farmer’s market, grocery store or your dinner table. In-season foods are also more affordable.
And, of course, there’s nothing quite like eating a Texas peach in the summertime, or pumpkin in the fall.
- Calendar/Map: Seasonal produce in Texas
- Interactive: What’s in season in Dallas
- Directories: Find your local farmers market in Texas and North Texas
This post originally published July 19, 2017 has been updated.