Professor & Center Director
The sales value of vegetable commodities in Texas was estimated at $373 million, ranking 8th in the U.S. (USDA, 2007), representing an estimated economic impact of $900 million. Vegetable crops were grown in 2,348 farms and 73,700 acres (USDA NASS 2011), from which 59,100 were for fresh market and 14,600 acres for processed vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, snap beans and spinach). Based on a recent internal analysis of the vegetable industry in the region (Feb. 2012), critical constraints include water limitations, high temperatures, narrow market windows, commodity prices, competition with CA and MX, food safety, and shortage of skillful labor.
- Developing efficient irrigation and cultural strategies to mitigate drought stress and enhance productivity, quality and phytonutrients of cabbage, broccoli, artichoke and melon crops.
- Determine the spatial and temporal stability of muskmelon and honeydew genotypes (GxE interaction) for phenotypic and quantative traits (Ph.D. student).
- Abscisic acid (ABA) functions in vegetable transplants and its applications to improve transplant quality, desiccation tolerance and marketing period (Ph.D. student).
- Hormonal (6-BA) applications to enhance for fruit set and growth of pepper and melons.
- Crop production and marketing strategies for specialty melons and artichoke in several eco-regions of Texas.
- Evaluation of watermelon performance in a cropping system rotation with field crops under deficit irrigation and strip tillage practices.
Regional/state: Maximize resource (water, nitrogen) use efficiency and management for high valuable commodities and design crops and products with enhanced traits and attractive to consumers.
National: Be recognized as ‘top water research program for specialty crops’, applying water conservation strategies (crop coefficients, deficit irrigation), improved genetics for drought tolerance (root systems, physiological adaptations) and water use efficient species. The breeding and vegetable pepper programs jointly released numerous and more recently (2011) 15 disclosures of jalapeno inbred lines and 3 habanero lines. Improved pepper and melon breeding lines genetic materials could serve as plant parents to develop hybrids for major seed companies.
International: Apply improved horticultural crop production systems to help commercialization of small-scale South African farmers collaborate between, Tshwane University of Technology, and Uvalde-Weslaco AgriLife Research).