The Rio Grande Valley is in the middle of its cabbage harvest and “the yields have been good,” said Dr. Juan Anciso, vegetable specialist at the Weslaco Cooperative Extension Office. Besides that, the prices are pretty good, too — running about $8 per fifty pound bag.
That's much better than last year when cabbage was selling at only about $4 per bag. Cabbage was going for $10 per 50 pound carton during the early season.
Fred Schuster, who has 350 acres of cabbage in San Juan, at that time considered the cabbage market to be the best since 1983. “Go figure,” said Schuster. “I'm just thankful.”
“Two weeks ago the prices were better,” Anciso admits. One reason for this was weather related problems earlier in other cabbage-producing states, which was good news for South Texas farmers.
“California had big rains; Florida and Georgia had cold spells.” Now those states are back in the market again.
The cool, dry winter in the Rio Grande Valley has been conducive to growing healthy cabbage. There has been little insect pressure and few diseases.
“Only a little downy mildew, which wasn't much of a problem,” says Anciso.
In the last 10 years South Texas has lost about 40 percent of its cabbage acreage due to water problems and urbanization, but the region still has approximately 3,000 acres planted to the vegetable, the most produced leafy winter vegetable in the Valley.
The average yield is 600 bags per acre. Statewide, there are about 10,000 acres of cabbage.
Although some farmers pack their cabbages right in the field, many others take their produce to large packing sheds. The Texas cabbage harvest normally starts in late November and continues through May.