Cool-season crop planting getting underway in South Texas

After plantings were delayed by rain, cool-season crops in the Rio Grande Valley are now off to a good start. Producers in the Rio Grande Valley have been trying to catch up on planting cool-season crops including onions, leafy greens, carrots and kale.

September was very wet, starting with rains generated by hurricanes and tropical storms, said Juan Anciso, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension vegetable specialist, Weslaco. But now, following days of sunshine and above-normal temperatures, planting operations are at full speed. “Rains in September delayed early planting, but now planting conditions are perfect. Plantings look to be on target.”

The planting window is critical for cool-season crops like onions, cabbage and carrots because of the time they take to mature. Carrot planting typically begins in September, and cool-season crop plantings peak in October, so Anciso said conditions have given the newly planted fields a good start.

“It’s been warm, into the 90s during the day,” he said. “But a cool front is expected to put daytime temperatures in the 70s with lows in the high-50s.”

Acreage for onions has declined in the last five years, from around 10,000 acres to 6,000 acres this season, Anciso said. Grower diversification has led to much of the changes. Crops now include everything from spinach, parsley, cilantro, collard greens, okra, celery and more, he said.

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