Record-breaking warm temperatures impacting Houston’s agriculture industry

Local businesses owners said they are seeing huge changes due to warm weather

Billy Trainor, the owner of Verdegreens Farm in Acres Homes, knows his greens.

He’s one of three owners. He and his partners started the farm in 2016.

“We grow lettuces, leafy greens, and culinary herbs in controlled environment greenhouses using hydroponic re-circulatory methods,” Trainor explained.

This means many of their greens are growing in a greenhouse powered by fans and water pumps.

“So basically, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, water is pumped through these thin quarter-inch lines,” Trainor said.

He said it’s a system that allows them to grow leafy greens in the Texas heat.

The winter season is typically the best time. For their traditional crops, the unusually warm temperatures right now are planting seeds of frustration.

“And you do notice that even though we are in December, we do have some pest pressure,” Trainor said. “Which means, there are some bugs still eating these collard greens.”

He said they are one of the only local suppliers to restaurants and farmer’s markets.

Trainor said 90% of the industry is based in California and Arizona. He added that if these warm temperatures continue to impact local farms, you could see prices go up.

Another big concern is just how warm it will get?

“What that might indicate about the general trend towards warming in this particular area, and it’s very difficult to grow in high temperatures in Houston,” he said.

Over at Buchanan Native Plants in the Heights, store manager Marta Lafaver said these unusually warm temperatures are not only blooming plants, but they’re also growing concerns.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge for us,” she said.

She said their workload has nearly doubled, and they are checking the temperature every evening around 5:00 p.m.

“We’ve got to take extra care of her (the plants). We have to move her all the way into the greenhouse,” Lafaver said. “Back and forth, back and forth.

She said last season it was the winter freeze that set them back.

“We lost almost 70% of our stock,” Lafaver said. “It was unreal.”

She said inconsistent weather could cost them again. From supply chain shortages to the freeze last winter, she said this will likely be another reason for suppliers to increase prices.

“We’re finally starting to kind of recover a little bit and now plants are acting out of season,” she said.

Lafaver’s advice to home growers right now, focus on planting trees, shrubs and Texas native plants.

“Pick plants that aren’t so needy,” she said.

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