Weather presents challenges for Texas spring produce deal

04/16/2014 11:03:00 AM
Jim Offner

A drought continues to plague Texas winter-spring produce growers and shippers, although they reported enough cold and moisture to cause some delays in their crops.

“Most of Texas is still very dry, with 85% of the state rated in abnormally dry to drought condition, according to this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor,” Texas Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Lindsey Pope said March 28.

On the other hand, she said, many fruit and vegetable crops in South Texas had received some recent rainfall, which provided some relief from the drought conditions.

 

Running behind

The Texas watermelon deal likely is going to be late this year, said Jeff Fawcett, salesman with Edinburg, Texas-based melon grower-shipper Bagley Produce Co.

“We’ve had cold temperatures, under 60 degrees, which has slowed things down,” he said.

Bagley ships year-round, with an import deal from Mexico to complement its Texas production, Fawcett said.

“The market is decent, but it’s not stellar,” he said when asked what to expect when the Texas deal rolls around.

It was too early to predict where the market would be when the first Texas shipments came in, he said.

“It could go both ways,” he said. “We’ve had some bad weather. If the weather does make a turn, it may create a high market.”

Growers using tunnels likely were going to get an early-April jump on “open-ground” growers, Fawcett noted.

McAllen, Texas-based Val Verde Vegetable Co. reports some gaps in its October-to-April vegetable deal, although production generally ran on time, said Cliff Wiebusch, sales manager.

“We had quite a bit of rain back in December, which delayed some of our plantings,” he said.

 

Onions

The onion deal likely will be leaner this year due to weather problems, said Ray Prewitt, president of the Mission-based Texas Vegetable Association.

“We’ve had some onions harvested but behind the market schedule, and it looks like it’s going to be a challenge to get these onions ready for market,” Prewitt said.

The crop appeared to be “several weeks behind” normal, Prewitt said

“We normally just don’t get a lot of rain in the wintertime,” he said.

Onion prices have been “about average” for most of 2014 — mostly a result of reduced yields and colder-than-normal temperatures in the Tampico, Mexico, growing area, and Texas acreage was experiencing delays, too, said David DeBerry, director of category management at Edinburg-based Crescent Fruit & Vegetable LLC.


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