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Agriculture Today


Without rain soon, spinach, other vegetable crops may be at risk




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September 7, 2011 | 2,923 views | Post a comment

If you like leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and cabbage, you may find them to be in short supply this fall due to the drought, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert.

“The problem we’re having right now is that we’re starting to plant some of these crops like cabbage, and we’re having heck keeping it wet enough to get it up and get it growing,” said Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist for southwestern Texas. “The other challenge we are having right now is that we don’t know how much water we’re going to have for the fall if it doesn’t rain soon.”

The Winter Garden area and surrounding region grows a wide range of vegetable crops, including onions and broccoli, Stein said. It grows most of the state’s spinach crop. Most are cool-season crops and are planted in the fall and grown under irrigation.

This year, despite the drought, many area vegetable growers had a pretty good year because no rain meant less disease pressure. That all could change with this fall’s plantings, he said.

Stein said the region did get some rain last year, but not enough to cause the rivers to run.

With recharge from the rivers and faced with heavy demands through irrigation this summer, the Edwards, Carrizo-Wilcox, and other local aquifers are all low, according to Stein.

“Basically, we’re starting to suck air from some of these wells,” he said. “We’ve got all these plans to plant, but if we don’t get some rain soon, we’re not going to have a whole lot of water to work with.”

Stein noted that the large vegetable production areas in South Texas were better off water-wise because the watersheds had been recharged there from summer storms.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported the drought continued with no rain forecast. Records show it has been about 70 days since the last economically significant rain in mid-June. In addition, record high temperatures of 110 degrees and high, dry winds created dust storms and aggravated the drought. The entire region remained in wildfire-alert status. Many water tanks were dry. Forage availability remained well below average for this time of the year. The cotton harvest was ongoing with excellent yields realized from fully irrigated fields. However, overall production was expected to be down significantly as most dryland and partially irrigated cotton failed. Sweet corn, recently planted for an early fall harvest, made good progress under heavy irrigation. Peanuts, pecans, and landscape nursery crops continued to make good progress wherever irrigation water was available. To save carefully developed herd genetics, ranchers reduced pasture stocking rates to the minimum and continued to provide heavy supplemental feeding.

Compiled from Texas A&M University and Texas AgriLife Extension Service reports.
 

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