South Texas farmers face a difficult few months after winter storm: 'It's devastating'
South Texas farmers were faced with the cleanup and widespread loss of crops after the winter storm passed this weekend.
Sara Srubar from Srubar Farms cried as she faced the realization that more than 80 percent of her winter crop froze.
"The crops did okay the first part of the intense freeze from Sunday through Tuesday but for some reason, the last two days which were not as cold did them in," Srubar said.
Srubar Farms cultivates five to eight acres of land to grow produce and sells products throughout the Coastal Bend at the farmers' markets in Alice, Corpus Christi and Rockport. They grow 25 different vegetable varieties though only five survived after the winter storm: broccoli, brussels sprouts, red cabbage, carrots and beet crops.
"There is now a waiting period for the soil to warm up to start planting again in mid to late March," Srubar added. "There's going to be a lull because the young winter crops would have been producing throughout the spring and early summer."
"It's devastating to put all this work into something and have it destroyed but what can you do?"
Dave Grisé from the Oso Bay Farms also lost 80 percent of his crop. He, too, was choked up on Sunday, Feb. 21 while assessing his garden and what can be salvaged from the crops.
"It was too cold for too long," Grisé said. "If the cold spell would have been shorter in duration I think we would have been able to salvage more and have a different outcome."
He planned to wait about a week before tilling to see if some of the crops make a comeback.
"There might be a chance that some will spring up and come back, I'm hoping," he said.
Gov. Greg Abbott has approved disaster funds through the USDA for the citrus farms in the Rio Grande Valley which have taken a huge hit in the last year after a drought and now a freeze. Abbott also requested federal assistance for emergency loans for Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy Counties.
Jim Wells County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent Rogelio Mercado said it was an expensive week for ranchers and smaller produce farmers. "South Texas has been in a drought since July, area cattle do not have the normal grazing forage due to the dry weather conditions. The livestock in South Texas is not acclimated to the intense cold weather we which is costing ranchers the expense of adding extra hay and protein to feed their livestock for energy," Mercado said. "The larger corn producers in the area do not plant until the end of February so those farmers might have been saved the heavy burden of financial loss, but the smaller produce farmers took a financial hit."
Members of the Amish community from the Beeville area were at the Southside Farmers Market on Saturday and said they too "lost a lot" of their crops from the heavy freeze. Their community is known for supplying a large quantity of fresh produce in the Coastal Bend, according to Joel Trevino with Dagon Produce.
Trevino is an advocate for supporting and buying locally and urges residents to continue to go to farmers' markets.
"This our community and the farmers need our support right now," he added. "It might be a little less for a few months but the silver lining is fewer bugs for the spring and summer crops and beautiful produce for the warmer months ahead."
Here's some of the local markets:
Corpus Christi Downtown Farmers' Market; Information: https://www.growlocalsouthtexas.org/
Corpus Christi Southside Farmers' Market; Information: https://www.facebook.com/CCFarmersMarket/
Alice Farmers Market; Information http:https://www.facebook.com/AliceFarmersMarket1
Rockport Farmers Market; Information; https://www.facebook.com/RockportDowntownFarmersMarket/