Winter Garden Region
The Winter Garden Region is an agricultural area in South Texas (USA) located north of Laredo and southwest of San Antonio. The region is centered on four "core" counties - Dimmit, Frio, La Salle, and Zavala, but also includes parts of Atascosa, Maverick, and McMullen counties.
The region is noted for its year-round production of vegetables through irrigation.
The area is part of the Tamaulipan mezquital ecoregion. Prior to the introduction of large-scale irrigation, the region was arid and covered in short grasses and mesquite trees. Onion crop production began near Cotulla (La Salle County) in 1896. At the same time, Dimmit County farmers began to utilize artesian aquifers and dams to provide water for irrigated crops.
The arrival of rail transportation in the early 1900s led to a major land boom in the region. Between 1900 and 1920, the number of farms in La Salle County almost tripled and the value of an acre of farmland in Dimmit County rose from $1.80 in 1900 to $24.60 in 1910 and more than $40 by 1920.
The number of farms in Zavala County tripled between 1900 and 1930 due largely to the division of the 96,000-acre (390 km2) Cross S Ranch into 10-acre (40,000 m2) plots. Although cotton production dominated in Frio County, the region's most important crops were onions, cabbage, spinach, beets, and strawberries. Other crops such as citrus fruits, melons, and nuts were also harvested.
By 1930, the Winter Garden region was home to 36,816 people (up from 8,401 in 1900). A combination of increased irrigation costs and the Great Depression led to a decrease in the number of small farms. Many were returned to ranchland while irrigation farming became a large-scale enterprise in other areas.
Today, the Winter Garden region is still among the leading producers of winter vegetables through irrigation in the country.
Core county population statistics
- "Winter Garden Region". The Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. 2008-01-11. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
- Groundwater Atlas of the United States: Oklahoma, Texas - Figure 75
- "South Texas Plains". Wildlife Management Areas of Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
- "Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Population for Counties of Texas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006" (CSV). 2006 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2007-03-22. Retrieved 2007-05-01.