Texas strawberry growers have enjoyed an early start to their season and the crop looks fantastic so far, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert. 

“This year, the season started earlier than it has in the past three to four years, and perhaps by as much as two to three weeks,” said Russ Wallace, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension horticulturist and professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences, Lubbock. “The first berries to come out of the field were large and very sweet, and the quality has been excellent.”

Part of this season’s strong crop is thanks to a milder than usual winter for many growers. Freeze damage to the flowers and plants has been minimal, Wallace said, and growers who protected their crop with row cover cloth saw less damage and earlier production than others.

Wallace said he has been impressed with what he’s seen so far.

“This spring, I’ve traveled across the state visiting growers’ fields, looking at the strawberry crop,” he said. “The crops overall look fantastic and the weather, for the most part, has cooperated.”

Although some regions get more fruit per plant, in Texas the average is about 1 pound, Wallace said. But given the favorable growing conditions, those larger berries should translate to increased weight per plant, making for a good season for most growers.

Inclement weather has impacted some individual strawberry fields, he said.

“There have been some heavy rains at some locations, as well as a few hailstorms, which damaged some crops,” Wallace said. “The heavy rains caused an increase in fruit diseases like botrytis gray mold in those locations and those berries needed to be removed from the fields.”

The losses to weather were slight and not enough to impact overall prices or production. He said typical diseases and insects have been kept in check with conventional and organic control best practices and should not be a major factor this season. He added that Texas’ strawberry crops tend to be treated for diseases and pests very little compared to other states.

Wallace also said he had not heard any concerns from growers this season related to drought. Watering strawberries is very efficient because strawberries are planted on raised beds with plastic film, and irrigation drip lines run on or below the surface under the plastic.

Increasing demand from consumers

Wallace said he believes strawberry acreage in Texas will continue to increase as growers see high consumer demand and the crop’s profitability. He said he is encountering more farms that have recently added strawberries to their overall production.

“For the past two years, my colleagues and I have been evaluating up to 20 strawberry varieties to determine whether there are better options than the current ones,” Wallace said. He said they collaborate with 15 growers statewide and several new varieties look promising. 

Prices are excellent for growers for the most part, he said. Farmers offering “pick-your-own” strawberries are charging between $3.50 to $8 per pound, which is roughly the same price as last year. But given the favorable growing conditions this year, many producers may have more strawberries to sell.

Wallace said while he has not seen an uptick in prices, it is possible producers could charge more money per pound because of intense demand in some areas. The popularity of Texas strawberries is so intense that some “pick-your-own” farms can be harvested out within several hours.

“Sometimes customers are turned away,” he said. “That just demonstrates the need for more growers and more acres dedicated to strawberries in Texas.”

What consumers should know

Wallace said strawberry consumers understand that locally grown Texas strawberries are a premium crop – in both price and quality. It takes a significant amount of work and money to produce strawberries, and the harvest season is relatively short at just six to eight weeks.

Around 90% of U.S. strawberries come out of California and Florida, but locally grown strawberries typically have a better appearance and flavor because they are picked and sold daily and not shipped across the country, he said. Texas strawberries are picked at a stage when they are fully ripe and the ideal shade of red, which is not what you generally see in large retail chain stores.

Unlike some other fruit, strawberries will not ripen any further once picked. Berries should be at least 80% red before being picked but 100% is ideal to ensure the best taste. Very dark berries, on the other hand, but otherwise unblemished may be overripe but can be used for jellies, jams and cooking.

“Texas strawberries are in high demand and demand a premium price because consumers know what they are getting,” Wallace said. “A lot of folks are repeat customers, and they want the best quality. They want the ripe red and the sweetest taste, and you can only really get that from growers in your area.”

Celebrate strawberries

Poteet, south of San Antonio, has the state’s largest concentration of producers and is considered the “strawberry capital” of Texas, but other producers can be found in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, Lubbock, Tyler and Fredericksburg areas.

If there are no local growers, look for berries grown in Texas when shopping at the supermarket. If you want to try a bunch of different berries, consider heading to Poteet, April 12-14, for the annual strawberry festival, which began in 1948. Visitors can taste and buy berries from local producers as well as enjoy live entertainment and a carnival.

“We’ve had a great crop so far this year,” said Joel Garcia, 4G Reyes Farms and president of the Poteet Strawberry Growers Association. “I’d encourage all Texans to enjoy local-grown berries while they can and to come down to the festival to experience everything strawberry-related as well. It is a very neat festival for such a small town.”

Garcia said all produce sold on the festival grounds are authentic Poteet strawberries, and all the food vendors at the event, from beer to brats, benefit non-profit organizations.

“We had some hailstorms limit some of our area’s growers for a few weeks, but the weather has cooperated since then with plenty of sunshine to let the berries come into fruit very nicely,” Garcia said. “Overall, this is a very good year for the industry here so far, and we’ve been able to keep those perishable strawberries on the vine until they are ripe and perfect to pick.”

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:


A map of the state of Texas divided into the 12 AgriLife Extension districts.

Small amounts of rainfall and cooler temperatures helped soil moisture. Additional rainfall was still needed to fill lakes. The potential of rains and storms was causing some concern over the threat to newly emerged corn and/or lodging with small grains. The soil was still too cool for Bermuda grass to do much, but there was some grazing on winter annuals. Pasture and rangeland conditions were good. Most small grains were grazed short. Producers were preparing fields for hay baling. Some producers even began to roll up a first cutting of hay. Wheat continued to look good. There was a report of some vernalization issues. Corn planting operations were wrapping up, and cotton planting operations were underway with warmer weather and good soil moisture in place. The cattle market was robust. Livestock were in good condition.


Producers across the district started feeling the need for significant rainfall to sustain topsoil moisture for cultivated crops and pasture grasses. Most counties reported wheat was beginning to put heads on with the sustained warmer temperatures over the last week. A few counties reported sporadic rust in wheat fields, and fungicides were being applied. Some farmers were cutting and baling wheat to increase livestock’s hay inventory. Most livestock did well with little to no supplemental feeding, with many stocker calves still grazing wheat. Cotton planting could begin earlier than typical this year if the area continues to get favorable rains.


Weather conditions were fair with no rain, resulting in a need for moisture in both crops and pastures. Rangeland and pasture conditions remained favorable due to prior rain despite some decrease in forage production caused by windy conditions. Nearly all cotton was planted and emerged, while rice planting was complete, and most was already up. Corn and sorghum were progressing well but could benefit from rain. Some producers were fertilizing hay fields, and early hay was being cut and baled. Additionally, cotton planting resumed after heavy rainfall in late March, and corn and grain sorghum conditions were reported as good. While some fields were still drying out, crop conditions were favorable. Livestock were reported to be in good condition.


Temperatures were warming up, helping warm-season grass growth. Pasture and rangeland conditions were good. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were adequate. Forage growth was done, with more than enough for livestock to graze. Fertilizer prices were worrying producers. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Cattle markets remained strong. Ponds and creeks remained full.


Very dry conditions and strong winds dried out the topsoil moisture. There was a lot of talk about planting corn soon if it had yet to be planted. Producers seemed more optimistic about the upcoming planting season. Many producers who were not going to harvest winter wheat have started spraying wheat to prepare fields for planting in the next few weeks. Oats have emerged and were in good to fair condition across the district. We need rain showers to continue with the adequate moisture we have received this year. Some native pasturelands with warm-season grasses have started greening up. Producers have started planting corn silage. Cattle were in good condition across the district.


High winds swept across the Panhandle region, sharply increasing evapotranspiration. Additional rainfall was needed to satisfy the demand for transpired moisture from small grain crops, grain, graze out, dual purpose — grazing and grain — and silage w. Many irrigation pivots applied water to build the soil profile moisture for planting warm-season row crops within the next two to four weeks. Growth and development of scattered, alternative and oilseed crops such as camelina and flax started to bloom and were visibly doing well. Wheat was growing at a fast pace now. Moisture was needed to keep the conditions at an optimum level. Supplemental feeding continued. Overall, soil conditions were reported from adequate to short. Pasture and rangeland were reported from fair to very poor. Winter wheat was reported good to poor.


Topsoil and subsoil conditions averaged adequate to short across all counties in the region. Pasture and rangeland averaged good to fair in most counties, with a few outliers reporting excellent and poor conditions. The week began cooler in the 60s and warmed up into the 80s, and a few counties received mild rainfall. The region can expect up to 3 inches of rainfall in the next week. Pastures were growing well. Fields that were planted were emerging. Wheat, oats and forage grasses were all doing well. Pecan trees and others were slowly leafing out of dormancy. Corn was emerging. Sorghum acres were prepared but not yet planted. Stone fruits were set at 1-2 inches lengthwise, and many leafy greens were in production. Producers anticipated a high-yielding harvest of blackberries this season. Livestock were in excellent condition across the region. Calf weight looks good, and many were weaning fall calves. There was little to no hay supplementation thanks to above-average forage. Hunt County noted barley yellow dwarf virus emerging in their wheat and oats as temperatures increased. Grayson County has noted nuisance flies, noctuid caterpillars and moths being more prevalent.


Temperatures averaged between the mid-60s to upper 80s, and winds were extremely high. Conditions remained dry, with an increase in wind and sandstorms due to minimal rain. Producers were spraying wheat and weeds and continued when wind conditions allowed. Winter wheat was heading out but will not be harvested. Otherwise, fieldwork has been minimal. Corn was beginning to grow somewhat with the warmer temperatures but was taking a beating from the wind. Watermelon planting began. Many cotton growers questioned whether they would continue and try to irrigate this season with the dry weather. Pecan trees were leafing out. Livestock producers were still supplementing feed with grain and hay. There were still some who were able to graze on their winter wheat but in most cases it would not be cut for hay but grazed out instead. Spring branding season continued for beef cattle producers. Lambing and kidding were complete. 


Scattered showers swept the district, and temperatures ranged from the upper 60s to lower 80s. Conditions remained dry due to the little rainfall and strong winds. Producers began cutting and bailing small grain fields. Some were preparing fields for warm-season forage planting. Fertilizer was being spread on coastal fields to get a head start for the summer season. Wheat continued to head out and was in good condition. Weed control was ongoing as weeds were abundant. Pecan producers were spraying zinc and managing spring insect pests. Stock tank and lake levels were low. Rangeland and pasture conditions were improving. Cattle were in good condition, and market prices remained historically high.


Mild temperatures and scattered showers fell across the district. Subsoil and topsoil moisture were adequate in some areas, but rain was still needed. Rice was being planted, ryegrass was being harvested, and fertilizer was being spread. Producers were spraying weeds. Rangeland and pasture forages were growing. Hay was being cut in some counties. Corn was emerging and looking good. The ponds were full. Cattle were in good condition, and markets were holding steady.


The weather was primarily overcast with warm temperatures, and windy conditions persisted throughout the area, posing extreme fire hazards. There was no precipitation for the week. However, morning dew increased, which has been beneficial for the topsoil. Pecan groves continued to leaf out well, although an early presence of aphids was noted. Larval and adult lady beetles have also been frequently observed, suggesting that infestations could be under control for the spring. Row crops emerged successfully from the early spring rains. However, growth was beginning to be limited due to dry conditions. Corn and milo looked promising, but they will require rain soon to sustain growth. Winter and spring wheat appeared healthy but depended on rain to fill seed heads. Pastures were greening up, and some fertilization and weed control efforts were noticeable. Rangeland cool-season annual forbs started to mature, and spring shearing was ongoing. Body condition scores of livestock continued to fall below optimum levels. Overall, rangeland and pasture conditions were showing signs of improvement following recent rains. Supplemental feeding of livestock has slowed, with livestock now grazing in pastures.


The district experienced mild temperatures, strong winds and no rainfall. Early cotton planting started in a few counties. Wheat and oat crops continued to develop under irrigation. Corn and sorghum were also under irrigation. Producers were finishing the spinach harvest. Onion harvest was in full swing, and cotton and sesame planting was complete. Citrus trees set their fruit for the season, but producers hope they will receive rain to promote fruit development. Pasture and rangeland conditions were relatively poor and were expected to continue declining due to the lack of rain. Hay fields were cut and baled. Producers will start spraying weeds and mesquite in the coming weeks. Producers continued supplemental feeding their livestock and wildlife. Cattle prices remained firm at local markets. Turkey season began with significant hunting activity.

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