If you like leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and cabbage, you may find them to be in short supply this fall due to the drought, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert.

"The problem we're having right now is that we're starting to plant some of these crops like cabbage, and we're having heck keeping it wet enough to get it up and get it growing," said Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist for southwestern Texas. "The other challenge we are having right now is that we don't know how much water we're going to have for the fall if it doesn't rain soon."

The Winter Garden area and surrounding region grows a wide range of vegetable crops, including onions and broccoli, Stein said.  It grows most of the state's spinach. Most are cool-season crops and are planted in the fall and grown under irrigation.

This year, despite the drought, many area vegetable growers had a pretty good year because no rain meant less disease pressure. That all could change with fall plantings, he said.

The region did get some rain last year, but not enough to cause the rivers to run.

"We had an inch here, two inches there, but we never had any running water," he said. "So we have rivers that have not run in three to five years. The Nueces is about dry. If they don't run, we won't have any gravel water we can access."

With recharge from the rivers and faced with heavy demands through irrigation this summer, the Edwards, Carizzo-Wilcox, and other local aquifers are all low, according to Stein.

"Basically, we're starting to suck air from some of these wells," he said."We've got all these plans to plant, but if we don't get some rain soon, we're not going to have a whole lot of water to work with."

Stein said the large vegetable production areas in South Texas were better off because the watersheds there had been recharged from summer storms. 

More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/.

rd-burns@tamu.edu