A-W Produce celebrates 30th anniversary

Weslaco, Texas-based A-W Produce Inc. got its start growing greens, carrots, cabbage and mixed vegetables in the Rio Grande Valley and today handles broccoli, carrots, onions and watermelons.

The company, started in 1982 by Danny Arnold, remains under the same leadership, said Chad Szutz, general manager.

“We’ve also branched out in the last few years into importing some products out of Mexico,” Szutz said.

The company continues to market its Texas-grown crops under the Penguin brand, Szutz said.

Bagley Produce boosts watermelon volume per acre

Edinburg, Texas-based Bagley Produce Inc. has a new strategy this season to hopefully produce more watermelons per acre.

The company increased its plant population per acre to conserve water and soil and to boost production and save input costs.

“We’re trying to get more out of that water and dirt than we have in the past,” Fawcett said. “It takes X amount of gallons of water to irrigate an acre, regardless of how many plants are on it.”

Texas watermelon group renews state marketing push

The Weatherford-based Texas Watermelon Association plans to continue the television outreach program it started last season. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant program.

Commercials, 30 seconds in length and featuring Texas watermelons, will run in the Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston markets and will be paired with online promotions with participating television stations, said Richard De Los Santos, marketing coordinator for the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Go Texan program.

“TDA will be working to conduct retail demos during the TV promotions,” De Los Santos said.

The Go Texan program also plans to work with the Taste of Dallas event to conduct a Watermelon Eating Contest at Fair Park in Dallas from July 13-15.

Progreso Produce expands onion, melon operations

Boerne, Texas-based Progreso Produce Ltd. has added onion acreage in Othello, Wash.; Hatch, N.M.; and Peru.

It also has expanded its avocado program to include year-round availability through Mexico and Peru and plans to increase business in its berry and mango programs.

“Over the last five years or so, we’ve grown our onion acreage in Texas (up) to 35%,” president and owner Curtis DeBerry said. “Our watermelons have increased over 60%.”

Dale DeBerry started the company in 1982 in Progreso, Texas, with onions in Texas and Tampico, Mexico. In 2005 Curtis DeBerry purchased the company and merged it with his own to grow business in berries, watermelons and onions.

“We’re focusing our growth now on the fruit side, including the whole berry category,” he said. “We’ll have year-round supplies of blues from Argentina, Chile, Florida and Michigan and strawberries from Mexico and Florida.”

Texas Vegetable Association plans food safety meetings

The Mission-based Texas Vegetable Association is anticipating questions from the industry as the Food Safety Modernization Act nears implementation.

As soon as the new rules are announced, the group plans to hold meetings and possibly Web conferences to help grower-shippers implement those rules.

“We want to remain flexible and do something when the rules are announced,” said Ray Prewett, executive vice president.

Another Texas Food Safety conference also is in the works, Prewett said, possibly for this summer.