Texas produce growers are currently harvesting and shipping melons, citrus and other crops to supermarkets mostly throughout the Eastern half of the country.
When the Lone Star State producers of fresh fruits and vegetable are not in season, Texas is the major route for fruits and vegetables from Mexico.
Many Texas produce operations also have relationships with the growers in Mexico.
For example, in 2016, two-thirds of all the fresh produce sold in Texas was grown in Mexico. Texas grows $900 million of 60 different produce items on 117,000 acres. There are 26,000 acres of watermelons, and 22,000 acres of grapefruit out of a total of 29,000 acres of citrus.
As of 2018, Texas had a population of 28 million people and has the third highest growth population rate of all the states at 1.8 percent per year.
J & D Produce Inc. of Edinburg, TX is a grower-shipper in the Rio Grande Valley and has been shipping kale during the winter for over 25 years to the northeastern U.S.
The company estimates 20 percent of what it grows is distributed in the Lone Star State, while the other 80 percent is shipped out of the state wholesale terminal markets and retail distribution centers, mostly east of the Mississippi River.
Texas is so important in grapefruit and orange production that when California’s largest grower-shipper wanted to fill out their portfolio of year-round citrus, they looked to the Lower Rio Grand Valley.
Wonderful Citrus of Los Angeles grows and ships Texas grapefruit and oranges. While volume during the past five years has been flat, new plantings of grapefruit and oranges were launched a few years ago. The company is now expecting shipments to increase over the next several years.
Wonderful citrus is now the largest red grapefruit grower in Texas, accounting for 50 to 55 percent total share of volume this winter season.
Although Florida remains the orange juice king despite struggles with citrus greening disease, California and Texas are by far the leading fresh market citrus producers with a combined total of nearly 300,000 acres,
The 2018-2019 Texas vegetable shipments experienced problems due to weather factors during the growing season and will conclude in the middle of April. Excessive rains in the Rio Grande Valley, including the Winter Garden district west of San Antonio, made for difficulty in planting schedules, and then later with harvesting, packing and shipping.
In 2016, U.S. fruit and vegetable imports from Mexico reached about 10 million metric tons, with a total value of about $12.4 billion, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service statistics, which accounted for 43 percent of all U.S. fruit-and-vegetable imports from all countries.
About half of all the fresh produce coming into the country from Mexico does so through Texas. Each year, 255,000 truckloads cross the border from Mexico into Texas. At the Pharr International Bridge south of McAllen alone, 157,000 loads of produce come in every year, which is a little more than Nogales, AZ.
Tomatoes account for nearly 30 percent of all the vegetables imported from Mexico, while avocados, watermelons and limes make up more than half the volume of fruits.
Over the previous 12 years, fresh produce from Mexico has grown significantly each year, the biggest items being tomatoes, avocados, limes, mangos and broccoli. Mangos and limes are very close in volume and one or the other can lead in volume from year-to-year to rank number 5 in imports. The volume of both is now larger than sweet peppers.