Early warming may be good news for East Texas farmers

Is East Texas winter over, and how would that affect gardeners?
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 4:14 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2023 at 10:40 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WOOD COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Temperatures in the mid to upper 70s, in February ... in East Texas?

The unseasonably warm weather has farmers hopeful that the cold is gone for the season, and planting can begin. which they say would be good news for food supply.

With upper 70′s to end February, and a mild March forecasted, some farmers are seeing opportunity.

“Yeah, you could get a little earlier start on some things. Fruit trees, blackberries. Dormant stuff can go in the ground now,” says Upshur County fruit grower Mike Hill, owner of Hill’s Farms.

Another farmer remembers how different last year was.

“That’s completely different from our normal last of February, first of March,” says Wood County farmer Melvin Rutherford.

Prolonged warming temperatures, and, provided there’s no threat for a freeze or frost, is good news for farmers.

A longtime Wood County farmer, Rutherford has 40 years of experience, and says it’s a window for early planting for some.

“It really could help out a lot of people. I may go next week, I may go in the cup with some. And that will actually put me a week or two ahead. And go to the field a little ahead,” he says.

But not so fast.

Raising the “Rutherford watermelon,” sought after by vendors and markets, he can’t afford to take a chance.

“I don’t rush,” he says.

And Hill urges caution.

“It’s not good for dormant plants like peach trees to warm up and cool off and warm up.” Hill says.

Early planting means longer production and more volume going into the food supply. But it’s all dependent on the weather.

“It can change. You can’t fool Mother Nature all the time, and that one frost, that one Easter snap, could start a lot of replanting, and we could be late,” Rutherford says.