Kale is one of several crops San Juan, Texas-based Rio Fresh Inc. is growing this season, says Taylor Schuster, sales manager. (Photo courtesy of Rio Fresh Inc.)
Growers in south Texas were gearing up for a bountiful holiday season and expected ample supplies of numerous commodities, including kale, cilantro and cabbage as well as mustard, collard and turnip greens.
On the citrus side, grapefruit already was shipping in early November, and several varieties of oranges should be ready by early December.
“We’re considered a winter vegetable area,” said Dante Galeazzi, president and CEO of the Mission-based Texas International Produce Association.
Frontera Produce Ltd., Edinburg, Texas, expected to start shipping cabbage, its biggest vegetable item of the winter, by Nov. 20, said Trevor Stuart, account manager.
Quality was looking good, he said in early November, despite some unseasonably warm weather.
“The plants look good, the stands look good, and we hope to hit the ground running with some decent volume to start,” he said.
Frontera started its jalapeño pepper program in late October and will continue as long as weather permits, probably through mid-December.
The company’s volume should be up slightly on jalapeños, Stuart said, while volume on other commodities should remain similar to last year.
The company started its cilantro program the first week of November and will continue until mid-April.
Frontera’s sister company, Crescent Fruit & Vegetable LLC, will ship the same volume of onions and watermelons as last year, he said.
Grow Farms Texas LLC, Donna, Texas, will ship green, red and napa cabbage this winter, along with squash, eggplant, cucumbers and jalapeño, serrano and Anaheim chili peppers out of south Texas, said Tommy Wilkins, director of sales and business development.
The company will have green bell peppers until the first frost, he said.
“We’ve had some incredibly hot weather,” Wilkins said in early November. “We would like to see it cool off a little bit as we get into the cabbages and the greens.”
So far, the warm weather has not harmed the crops, he said.
Rio Fresh Inc., San Juan, Texas, started its wet vegetables Oct. 20 and was shipping about 20 items, including herbs, parsley and beets, by early November, said Taylor Schuster, sales manager,
“We had a really, really good start,” he said.
By early December, Rio Fresh expects to ship specialty vegetables like bok choy, napa cabbage, leeks and spinach.
Citrus acreage this year should be similar to last year’s 27,000 acres, said Dale Murden, president of Mission-based Texas Citrus Mutual.
About 70% of that acreage is rio red grapefruit.
Judging from budwood sales, acreage could increase by 4,000 acres within 12-18 months, he said.
So far, the industry, with support from various government entities, has managed to do a pretty good job of keeping threats from citrus canker, citrus greening and the Mexican fruit fly at bay, he said.