Produce distributor ‘cautiously optimistic’ as farmers across Texas count losses following winter storm

Farmers across the state are counting losses instead of profits after the winter storm

POTEET, Texas – The area farmers who grew crops were unable to completely protect them against the record cold and are finding their prized harvest ruined after last week’s winter storm.

“They got really cold, to the point where they just got brittle and they’re falling apart right now,” said Donovan Garcia Jr., who grows some of Poteet’s prized strawberries. “They look like they may not bounce back.”

Garcia said they’re among the strawberries he was unable to irrigate before the freezing temperatures settled in for days.

He says some growers were luckier than most depending on the type of crop and whatever precautions they used to keep their crops from freezing during the storm.

A farmer in Frio County reported losing 500 acres of broccoli, cabbage and lettuce.

Texas A&M AgriLife extension agents will be throughout affected areas assessing the damage and the economic impacts.

On its website, the Texas Farm Bureau has resources and assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Despite the loss of crops across the state, it’s predicted any impact on consumer prices could be short-lived.

Fernando Gonzalez, a major produce distributor, said he is “cautiously optimistic” because the supply is good.

“There’s so much product that comes into Texas from all over the United States,” Gonzalez said.

He said much of what comes into the River City Produce warehouse on S. Laredo, is grown on the East and West coasts, the Midwest and Mexico.

Gonzalez said situation would be far worse had those areas had been in the same “deep freeze.”

Also helping, Gonzalez, said, is that many restaurants need less produce, since they have limited capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“There’s going to be some effects down the road,” Gonzalez said. “But I don’t think that it’s going to be anything too crazy.”

Julie Beningfield, a spokesperson for H-E-B, said teh company is “not anticipating price impacts at this time.”

Related: ‘We should have been a priority’: Consumers may feel the pinch at checkout after Texas farmers hit hard by winter storm

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.