US (TX): Celery crop escapes ruin from last week's cold weather

Southern Texas growers have also experienced their share of cold weather recently, with heavy frost and near freezing temperatures putting crops at risk. 

Helicopters and blowers to protect the crops
Edinburgh, Texas had heavy frost on the morning of January 4. “Not a good thing, but I think we’re going to be OK,” said Matthew Bradley of Little Bear Produce. “We spent a lot of time in preparation: watering some crops, making sure we had ample water in the fields – we even hired helicopters to hover over the celery so that we would save that crop.” Mission accomplished, according to Bradley, saying that the celery crop was saved.

The first load had to be harvested last Wednesday, which Bradley said they had prepared for. Temperatures didn’t get below 33 degrees but dipped under 32 degrees on Thursday. He reported that in the celery field, temperatures were a mere 29 around 6 am Thursday morning. “Again, we had helicopters running since before dawn. We also have blowers that blow moisture into the field to protect them. We definitely escaped what could have been a season killer.” Since the 85 acres of celery are set in stages, they’ll be continually harvesting now for distribution to retailers requesting local Texan celery.

What was harvested has been good quality. “Last year we had extraordinary heat. This season has been good for quality but not good for growth. We’ve been cutting parsley that really shouldn’t be ready for two weeks but we’re in there because we don’t have any other resources to get it from,” he stated. As long as the temperature can stay reasonable, Bradley is anxious for the spring, although he used to look forward to February because it’s usually a beautiful time of year in south Texas, with temperatures around 48 – 55 degrees at night and 75 during the day. It’s “Chamber of Commerce weather,” as he put it.

Supply gaps
The cold weather will likely cause gaps for several states, including Texas, according to Bradley. “It has been so cool products aren’t growing – they’re not reacting to fertilizer because they don’t have any sunshine,” he said. “I think we’ll see Texas and Florida run into gaps, of course California as well. There will be impact on the industry (from recent storms) and California is dealing with their issues. We’ve already seen some reaction on supplies and products from there.”

For more information:
Matthew Bradley
Little Bear Produce
Ph: 956-380-0353

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