Lower Rio Grande Valley onion and melon farmers were not able to cash in on what should have been one of their most profitable seasons in years. Instead, many just broke even. Disappointing yields due to cold snaps, heavy rains and hail are being blamed.
“Onion prices were the highest since the ‘70s and watermelon prices were the highest in the last five years, but growers just weren't able to take advantage because yields were down one-third to a half of what they normally are,” said Juan Anciso, vegetable specialist at the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Weslaco. “Cantaloupe yields were also down.”
A lack of competition from Mexican cantaloupes kept market prices high early in the season, but then prices dropped considerably when California cantaloupes overwhelmed the market. Without special Food and Drug Administration sanitation inspections, Mexican cantaloupes were banned from coming into the United States this year because of salmonella contamination problems last year in melons consumed in the Midwest that were traced to Mexico.