COLLEGE STATION - While Hurricane Ingrid has been a terrible, destructive houseguest in eastern Mexico, Texas Winter Garden growers would have welcomed her with open arms, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist.Most years, hurricanes and tropical storms are a mixed blessing to South Texas, but this year, with reservoirs critically low, heavy rains could have made a big difference, said Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist, Uvalde.
One of the leading producers of irrigated winter vegetables in the U.S., the Winter Garden area has been particularly hard hit by the long-standing Texas drought, he said.
While winter Garden vegetable farmers remain optimistic about this year’s crop despite the drought, the hope was Hurricane Ingrid would turn north and bring in moisture from the Gulf to replenish water levels, Stein said.
“We actually got a little bit of moisture,” he said. “It’s been spotty showers, and it’s been more so to the south of Uvalde and west of San Antonio. We’re hopeful we’ll get a little more later in the week.”
However, a little rain, though welcomed, is not going to turn things around. Many rivers have stopped running, and though the Edwards aquifer still has “pretty good water,” regional farmers are facing stage 3 or stage 5 drought restrictions, depending upon where they’re located, according to Stein.
“Others are pumping out of the Carrizo Sands and that seems to be holding. And there are a few other wells that are also holding,” he said.
“As far as the outlook goes, it’s not good, but it looks like we’re going to have water to plant some crops starting in October,” he said. “There has been cabbage planted back in late July, the cooler weather has helped, and the brief showers have helped a bit too. We’re okay, but we need help.”
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/ .