Artichokes are a rising star in Texas

04/04/2013 05:50:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

harvesting artichokes in TexasCourtesy Texas A&M Agrilife ResearchA worker at MO Produce harvests artichokes in the Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley.In the land better known for armadillos and roadrunners is a crop that may seem out of place—artichokes.

After all, California accounts for 95 percent of the nation's artichokes.

But Mike Ortiz and his partner, Jed Murry, of MO Produce LLC in Mission, Texas, have been successfully growing 'chokes for five years, thanks in part to work by Texas A&M University in Uvalde, according to a news release.

Daniel Leskovar, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research vegetable physiologist and Uvalde center director, has conducted trials that examine the most suitable artichoke varieties for Texas. He also has examined what types of changes to California cultural practices would need to be made to account for Texas' different climate.

“From a production standpoint, artichokes are a reasonably low-maintenance crop,” Ortiz said in the release. “In general, they require about the same amount of effort as say cabbage or onions. Plus, they have a much better profit potential than most of the traditional crops produced in the Valley.”

So far, customers have liked the freshness, nutty flavor and big heart of the 'chokes the two grow in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

In addition to local consumers, MO Produce count Whole Foods and another Texas-based supermarket chain as customers.

Regional celebrity chefs also have become fans because of their flavor and the fact that they're locally produced.

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