Texas Agriculture October 2, 2015 : Page 6

Green wit h envy Texas farmer opts to try organic crop it gets to a certain point, they start harvesting.” The teams harvest at night, after the pivots are shut off, to ensure the beans are cool and don’t expand on the way to the Del Monte plant in Crystal City, which is over 600 miles away. The Del Monte team runs a spe-cialized harvester, Orbo’s Pixall, through the fields of green beans until the sun comes up and temperatures start to rise. It is the Gordons fi rst year growing green beans. The family traditionally By Jessica Domel Field Editor As the sun sets in the Texas Panhandle, harvesters begin to roll over a fi eld of freshly-watered Blue Lake green beans. It may be the end of the day for most Texans, but for Robert Gordon, his family and the Del Monte harvest team, sundown is the start of a whole new day. “They start about 30 min-utes after sundown,” Robert, a Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) state director, said. “They check the temperature on the bean. Once grows corn, sorghum for seed, wheat and sometimes, oats for seed. But this year, they decided to venture out and try raising organic vegetables. “We just wanted to diversify our operation,” Robert said. “It would be really diffi cult to do our whole opera-tion organic. It just takes a lot of labor and a lot of time.” Growing organic foods also re-quired a change in practice for the farm family. “We use compost for our nitrogen phosphate pot ash. There are some organic pesticides and fungicides, but there are no or-ganic herbicides,” Robert said. Because there are no organic herbicides, keeping weeds at bay is a bit of a challenge. “That’s one reason 100 percent organic is not sustainable. We can’t get enough help,” Robert said. Because the beans are being grown organically, they also can-not be grown more than two years in a row due to disease problems. “There’s a lot of challenges with that. This is fi rst-year ground. It’s been a pasture forever. It makes it a lot easier,” Robert said. “You start raising a crop out here, and the insects will come.” Robert didn’t enter the world of vegetable growing alone. Along with his two sons, Jared and Kent, he partnered with Larry Mason to grow 500 acres of organic green beans for Del Monte. They planted the beans in early July. Just 60 days later, the beans were ready for harvest. The Gor-6 O CTOBER 2, 2015

Green with Envy

Jessica Domel

Texas farmer opts to try organic crop

As the sun sets in the Texas Panhandle, harvesters begin to roll over a field of freshly-watered Blue Lake green beans.

It may be the end of the day for most Texans, but for Robert Gordon, his family and the Del Monte harvest team, sundown is the start of a whole new day.

“They start about 30 minutes after sundown,” Robert, a Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) state director, said. “They check the temperature on the bean. Once it gets to a certain point, they start harvesting.”

The teams harvest at night, after the pivots are shut off, to ensure the beans are cool and don’t expand on the way to the Del Monte plant in Crystal City, which is over 600 miles away.

The Del Monte team runs a specialized harvester, Orbo’s Pixall, through the fields of green beans until the sun comes up and temperatures start to rise.

It is the Gordons first year growing green beans. The family traditionally grows corn, sorghum for seed, wheat and sometimes, oats for seed. But this year, they decided to venture out and try raising organic vegetables.

“We just wanted to diversify our operation,” Robert said. “It would be really difficult to do our whole operation organic. It just takes a lot of labor and a lot of time.”

Growing organic foods also required a change in practice for the farm family.

“We use compost for our nitrogen phosphate pot ash. There are some organic pesticides and fungicides, but there are no organic herbicides,” Robert said.

Because there are no organic herbicides, keeping weeds at bay is a bit of a challenge.

“That’s one reason 100 percent organic is not sustainable. We can’t get enough help,” Robert said.

Because the beans are being grown organically, they also cannot be grown more than two years in a row due to disease problems.

“There’s a lot of challenges with that. This is first-year ground. It’s been a pasture forever. It makes it a lot easier,” Robert said. “You start raising a crop out here, and the insects will come.”

Robert didn’t enter the world of vegetable growing alone. Along with his two sons, Jared and Kent, he partnered with Larry Mason to grow 500 acres of organic green beans for Del Monte.

They planted the beans in early July. Just 60 days later, the beans were ready for harvest. The Gordon family could be found, along with the harvest team, walking through fields and taste-testing the fruits of their labor.

“We grew them. They’re safe to eat,” Jared Gordon said. “They’re fresh.”

There was one set back to the Gordon’s inaugural crop. A hail storm destroyed much of the crop—cutting production on the plants by about 70 percent.

“It makes you sick,” Jared said. “Everything looks so good and then, in one night, they were damaged.”

The loss won’t keep the Gordons down. They hope to continue growing green beans for American consumers in the coming years.

“It’s a really interesting crop. We’ve learned a lot,” Robert said.

The beans are doing well in the dry climate West of Dalhart where the days can be hot, but temperatures cool off at night enough for the beans.

“The plant just rejuvenates and grows really well up here,” Robert said.

The beans they grow are sold through Del Monte in Costco under the store’s organic food label.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Green+with+Envy/2287016/275327/article.html.

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