Black Rot Disease Affecting Cabbage Growing Season
NEAR EDINBURG – Many Rio Grande Valley farmers are trying to recoup their losses after the black rot disease invaded their cabbage crops.
Edinburg farmer Tommy Hanka's company, Tommy Hanka Farms, grows cabbage as well as other cool season vegetables in a 1,000-acre farm land.
Hanka said the recent record heat was terrible news for farmers.
“Well, it affected me on my green cabbage and red cabbage. I had some black rot issues. I ended plowing under over 75 percent… It was just not marketable. It was a real disaster, a real train wreck this year,” he said.
Hanka said farmers and the local economy are affected when there is a bad growing season.
“The box companies don’t get paid, the trucking companies don’t get paid because there is no product to move. There’s no produce to sell. We just can’t employ these guys because there is no work,” he said.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extensions vegetable specialist Juan Anciso said other farmers also saw big losses this growing season.
He said about half of the 3,000 acres of cabbage planted this season was lost due to black rot.
“Warm weather – for example for bacteria – it increases their reproduction rate so you have more bacteria,” he said. “And we have had a serious problem with black rot, which is a bacterial pathogen in cabbage. It’s a disease that has been around since cabbage has been around. But we haven’t had these problems since the 1980s.”
Anciso explained black rot enters through the leaves and causes them to turn black and brown, making the cabbage unsellable.
But Hanka said although this year’s season was extremely tough he’s not giving up.
“Let’s move on. We are going to stick to the game plan. We are going to do the same thing we did this year. We are going to be here next year…. It’s only going to get better,” he said.
Anciso said Texas AgriLife will continue to look for black rot resistant strains of cabbage. He said farmers will then be better equipped to turn a profit during unusually warm season.
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