A new vegetable and research center, dedicated this week in Weslaco, Texas, could be a catalyst to bring the state back to its one-time position as a top tier vegetable producing state.
The new facility, The Rio Grande Valley Vegetable Research and Education Building, part of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, is a repurposed facility that once housed honeybee research efforts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Federal budget cuts in 2012 led to the closure of this and other facilities located adjacent to the center facilities.
For the past year, Texas A&M AgriLife has been remodeling the building to bring it up to university standards for conducting high-tech vegetable research, according to Dr. Juan Landivar, resident director of the center.
“This new facility will support the local and state vegetable industry by conducting research on vegetable breeding and genetics, cropping systems and vegetable marketing and economics,” he said.
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Texas is now a net importer of vegetables but once ranked among the top vegetable producing states in the country, he said.
John Sharp, Texas A&M University System chancellor, who led a ribbon-cutting ceremony, said: “This facility will be dedicated to research that will help restore Texas to its former role as a top vegetable producer both locally and nationally.”