Producers in the Texas High Plains will soon be able to run advanced budgeting scenarios before planting non-traditional crops such as vegetables on smaller acreages.
High-value crops such as vegetables can increase overall producer profitability, said Dr. Justin Benavidez, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist, Amarillo.
While vegetable production in this region dates back many years, increased demand and associated price increases for corn from the growth of the cattle feeding industry in the High Plains led to a decline in acreage over time, Benavidez said.
Now that the water in the Ogallala Aquifer is limited in some areas, producers are looking for alternative crops that can provide increased returns for the same amount of water, he said.
“Also, there is an established desire among consumers to know where their food comes from and have it locally sourced,” Benavidez said. “That is helping generate some of these higher prices for vegetables and making them an economically feasible alternative for some producers.
“However, these budget analyses on a variety of vegetables are needed, because they allow a producer to establish realistic break-even estimates, both on yields and prices,” he said. “Having those breakevens are key to establishing production goals.”
With no recent studies taking into account updated technologies utilized with these crops in the High Plains, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension and West Texas A&M University combined efforts under an Ogallala Aquifer Program grant in 2018 to identify the economic feasibility of three crops – tomatoes, jalapeño peppers and sweet corn.