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Texas growers continue to contend with drought

While recent rains were welcome, Texas growers continue to contend with the issues spiraling from the state's drought–an issue that they've been dealing with for a number of years. For starters, one of the primary issues is regions in Texas not being able to access their water allotments.

"This last planting cycle, some districts were cut off and didn't have enough water for their allotment," says Tony Martinez of Primo Trading Services LLC "Growers may have had water on paper but they were not given any physical water."

In Texas, water is allotted to water districts and the districts that have had water allotted to them are fairly few. "Some districts, based on their geographic location, water has to run from point A to point Z by canals though by the time it gets to point Z, a lot of water has been lost in transit," says Martinez. That means that some growers weren't sent water at all.

Non-produce crops
However, the impact on fresh produce in Texas is minimal compared to the effect on other crops. "Though for the last three years, our company hasn't been able to farm in one particular district because there's not enough water in that district. That elevates our costs because we have leases but we can't farm the land," says Martinez. That means absorbing that cost on top of absorbing elevated growing costs.

The growers that are even more affected than fresh produce growers are those growing non-fresh crops such as sugar, grain, and sorghum. "A few of them have just planted on dry land and they are hoping and praying that they get rain," says Martinez.

So what does that mean for the near future for Texas produce crops? For Primo Trading, right now its farm crew should be working the land and getting ready to buy seed and then planting cabbage within the next couple of weeks. "The reality is we are not doing any of that because we still don't have the water allocations for the next cycle," says Martinez.

That said, because of recent rains in Texas, the drought outlook looks slightly better and that rain is forecast to continue for the next few weeks. "That's going to help us tremendously because as of now, we're still waiting and hoping that we get more rain that will go to the reservoir so that we can get our allocations back and get planning for the next cycle," he says.

Drought and yields
Then there's the last cycle's onion crop. "Despite the increase in onion acreage, I believe the yields were not there because of the weather," he says. "This was probably one of our worst onion crops ever and I think a lot of it had to do with the drought."

It is also impacting the types of crops being grown. Martinez says over the last five years, every year another type of crop is let go because of water (and also other costs such as labor). "For us, that means that there's been a greater focus on onions, a crop that doesn't require as much water vs. watermelon. Onions are also very labor intensive but right now we're just going to scale down to try and save the water for the crops we're most comfortable with," he says.

For more information:
Tony Martinez
Primo Trading Services LLC
Tel: +1 (956) 800-4343
[email protected]