With some exceptions, fruit and vegetable growers in Texas have not been hit as hard by drought as other ag producers in the state, shippers and industry officials said.

“The drought has not been as bad in the Rio Grande Valley as it has been further north,” said John McClung, president of the Mission-based Texas Produce Association. “In the commercial community, it has not been a significant problem.”

Drought  leaves Texas crops mostly unaffectedThe Texas citrus crop could be off by about 10% this season, but that’s due to cold weather in February, not the drought, said McClung and Ray Prewett, president of Mission-based Texas Citrus Mutual and executive vice president of the Mission-based Texas Vegetable Association.

“The drought is having some impact, but it’s been relatively minimal,” Prewett said. “But it would still help if we had some rain.”

Vegetable growers, meanwhile, have had a harder time in the Winter Garden growing region than in the valley, Prewett said. Some green bean growers, for example, have had problems with crops not setting, he said.

Some spinach and cabbage fields also have been hit hard by the drought, according to a news release from Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Extension Service.

Pumpkins in the plains north of Abilene also have been affected by heat and drought this summer, Prewett said.

The aquifer levels for some Texas pumpkin growers have dropped 100 feet below normal levels, raising irrigation costs, said Bruce Frasier, president of Dixondale Farms Inc., Carrizo Springs, Texas.

Despite excellent quality, yields were lower and sizing down on Dixondale’s cantaloupe deal, which ended in July, Frasier said.

A break in the weather in late August and early September helped growers get onion transplants in the ground, Frasier said. Ground temperatures in some fields were as high as 160 degrees, he said, but pre-irrigation cooled them down.

“It’s been 60 degrees at night, which has made a big difference,” Frasier said. “The stands are looking pretty good.”

Dixondale should begin harvesting onion transplants in November.    

Tropical storms in the valley two years ago replenished the aquifers growers source irrigation water from, and those aquifers have provided abundant supplies this season, McClung said.

“I haven’t heard any growers complaining about their water bills,” he said.

Cotton and grain growers and cattle producers north of the valley have been hit far harder by the drought, McClung said.