Written by Kristen Howard, an Agricultural Science Senior at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
It is no secret that Texas and California are two of the biggest and strongest players in the agriculture industry. California has led the United States in agricultural production for the past 50 years and produces more than 350 commodities year after year. Texas may not be number one in the United States for agriculture production, although its not far behind, but it is the state’s second largest industry. Texas is very diverse in its agricultural operations as they range from livestock operations to crop production.
The two states may be more than a thousand miles apart and have different strengths in their agricultural production, but each state has that one leading crop that is their pride and joy. Their leading crops couldn’t be more different, but the preparations for their top crops begin in early February and can wrap up as late as November.
Texas is known for being incredibly hot and having unpredictable precipitation. Summertime in Texas can be a real scorcher with temperatures soaring up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily, there are a few crops out there that thrive in these heated conditions. Cotton is one of those crops and not only is it the number one crop produced in Texas, it is a major cash crop and has been going strong since the sixteenth century.
Cotton is a perennial crop that begins its lifecycle in early February and wraps up its season as late as November. Cotton is considered to be a warm season crop, so it is only natural that it would be able to survive in the scorching Texas heat. Cotton is considered to be one of a few crops that are able to thrive in all of the different growing regions of Texas.
While Texas is getting ready for their cotton, California is preparing for grape season. Grapes are California’s second leading crop commodity, behind dairy production.
Grapes are unique in the sense that there are several different varieties that do well in the various areas of California. There is grape production from Northern California all the way to Southern California. Regardless of the variety, grapes are one of those crops that are cared for all year long, but special attention is paid to them in the spring and the summer.
When spring is making its arrival in California, grape vines are beginning to come back to life from their winter dormancy. Grapevines begin to form buds and the vines come alive with green leaves. This is one of the more crucial stages in grape production and its success is highly dependent on the weather. Frost can be highly detrimental to the success of grape production and could potentially hinder the production. Grape growers monitor the weather closely for any signs of frost and, if frost is expected, growers set up wind machines in the vineyards to keep the grapes a little warmer than the actual temperature.
Cotton and grapes are two very different crops, but are top commodities in their respective states. Texas and California may be miles apart and have different climates, but Spring still means the same thing. In crop production, it is time to plant, prepare and get ready for those highly anticipated summer crops, as well as the kick off for cotton and grapes.