Growing Strawberries in the South Plains?

Thanks to a generous grant, researchers at Lubbock's Texas A&M AgriLife Center are working on methods to make strawberries a suitable crop for the South Plains.

We all know cotton is the cash crop of West Texas. However, strawberries may soon be on the horizon.

"Growing strawberries can be very profitable," according to Texas A&M AgriLife researcher Dr. Russ Wallace. "So if they can grow well, and we can produce high yields, then the growers are going to look for something like this to add to their menu of things that they can grow."

Wallace and his team of scientists at AgriLife are developing growing methods to make strawberry crops suitable for the South Plains. Primarily, they can grow them in structures, called high tunnels, to protect the delicate crop.

"Especially in our area where we have adverse weather, high winds, hail, freezing temperatures, this offers a more balanced way to grow the vegetables," Wallace says.

The team received their funding from the Walmart Foundation.

Their project not only studies strawberry growth, but works to promote their production within the region.

"We actually have a grower we've been selling our strawberries to, and she's been out marketing them around the Lubbock area," Wallace says. She's been selling them to local restaurants and has been doing very well."

Right now there's only 150 acres of strawberries grown in Texas. But, Dr. Wallace hopes this project will change that.

"I don't think we'll be able to rival California, as far as strawberry production," Wallace admits. "But, if we can give them a run for their money, especially in local production, that'd be great."

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