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Texas Growing Season Begins Despite Dry Weather Conditions
USAgNet - 02/11/2020

Preparations and planting in South Texas are kicking off the 2020 growing season, but the region, like much of the state, is behind on rainfall, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialists.

Drier-than-normal conditions may not worry producers who use irrigation, but dryland growers could be looking at a disastrous season if significant and timely rainfall doesn't materialize.

Juan Anciso, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension horticulturist, Weslaco, said temperatures in South Texas have been mild with below-average rainfall since November. Despite drier-than-normal weather, growing conditions have been ideal for cool-season vegetable crops like cabbage, onions and carrots under irrigation.

"It's been nice and sunny, which has been good for growth," he said. "There's also been little, if any, insect and disease pressure on crops."

Producers will be harvesting those crops up to May, Anciso said. Some warm-season crops are being planted, and growers are preparing cropland, including prewatering to improve soil moisture levels for seeds.

Anciso said watermelon growers have been planting in small tunnel houses, which work like mini greenhouses, and will continue planting over the next several weeks. The tunnel houses allow those growers to start their crops and get to market earlier than normal. The region typically experiences its last freeze on Feb. 14.

Growers are also preparing to plant other warm-season crops including tomatoes, cantaloupes, honey dew melons and peppers, but that watermelons are the primary warm-season crop.

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