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Texas artichokes? Good luck with that

The Associated Press ran an article about research led by the Texas A&M extension service to cultivate artichokes in the Lone Star State. Manager of the California Artichoke Advisory Board in Castroville, Pat Hopper, seemed to express doubt in the article about the Texas effort to produce what has come to be a California crop.

"These guys in Texas don't know what they're in for" with the sensitive plant, Hopper was quoted. "I would wish them luck in finding a market in Texas. Texas is not one of our best buyers of artichokes."

Texas A&M professor Daniel Leskovar said the goal is to provide another product for the Winter Garden area, about 80 miles west of San Antonio, to enhance the local economy. According to the article, the Winter Garden region already produces cabbage, onions, carrots and broccoli.

AP reporter Elizabeth White went to UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Monterey County Richard Smith for information. He explained that in coastal California, artichokes enjoy a year-round cool climate, so they can be grown perennially. In Texas, the plants are grown first for six to eight weeks in a greenhouse, then planted in the ground. In the Winter Garden area, the temperature is about 65 degrees from September to May.

According to Smith, California's perennial artichokes stay in the ground for up to 10 years and generally produce a higher quality artichoke head, though they are more expensive to maintain. 

Yet Smith had encouraging words for Texas' potential artichoke farmers: "If they have a market and they're closer to that market, it could really work out."

The article ran in the Dallas Morning News, the San Angelo Standard-Times, the Fresno Bee and other newspapers.


Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 10:16 AM

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