September 2021 - 1

University of California
is improving equipment
for vacuuming lygus
bugs off strawberries
'Genius Bar' stage,
return of social hour at
2021 EXPO
Why garden centers
should consider a CSA
September 2021 | Volume 55 |
Issue 9
A tale of Texas
Onion growers overcome weather, navigate marketing
The Davis family grows sweet onions in South Texas, while also selling onions grown in Mexico and New Mexico. Michael Davis is pictured in this photo with his wife Claudia and
daughters Kimberly, left, and Kristen. Son Michael Davis Jr. is not pictured but plans to return to the family business after college. Photo: Tex-Mex Sales
By Stephen Kloosterman
Associate Editor
The Mike Davis family and dozens
of other South Texas families who
grow sweet onions recently finished
a dynamic season of farm operations
and marketing.
Despite a baffling freeze, and
complications brought on by
COVID-19, they continued to get
a product to market. And a new
marketing campaign aimed at
consumers brought new awareness to
the group's crops. It's a timely effort
for a group that's facing some possible
changes as its Federal Marketing
Order is being reviewed by the USDA.
It's been a good season's work.
" I enjoy it. I don't know anything
else - I've been doing this my whole
life, " said Davis, whose Tex Mex
Sales LLC farms 350-400 acres near
Weslaco, Texas, in addition to selling
onions from New Mexico and Mexico.
" But I enjoy producing onions, selling
it and packing it and getting it to the
consumer for them to enjoy. It's a
great feeling to be able to do all that
and employ people in the meantime
because most of my employees in
Texas are the same people every
year - they're families that work for
me during our season at the (packing
shed) and now at the farm, and they're
part of the family. "
Valentine's Day massacre
Texas, which has about 12,000
acres of bulb onions, according to the
USDA Economic Research Service,
experienced a nine-day cold spell
Feb. 11-20 that formed ice on the
plant leaves. With a few days' warning,
Davis resorted to soaking the fields to
lessen the effects on the plant roots.
" It's always better to have it watered
heading into a weather event, " Davis
said. " When your beds are wet, even
if it's cold, your ground temps are
obviously warmer than the air outside. "
Even so, the weather took a toll.
Davis said he hadn't seen such
conditions in 30 years.
" I would say we were down a couple
of hundred bags an acre, plus we were
two weeks late, " he said. " But you
know, if I were to talk to you on the
15th of February, I might not admit
it, but then I might have thought that
crop would have been lost because
these onions completely froze. "
As it happened, though, the slow
warm-up that followed the cold was
easy on the plants.
" Within a week, you could see they
were starting to come back, " Davis said.
Telling their story
In a year when Texans had to grow
with historic low temperatures, they
also were innovating with a new
Texas 1015 Sweet Onion (TX1015)
See ONIONS, page 5

September 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of September 2021

September 2021 - 1
September 2021 - 2
September 2021 - 3
September 2021 - 4
September 2021 - 5
September 2021 - 6
September 2021 - 7
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September 2021 - 9
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