With 80 percent of its land in use for agriculture, Texas is the second-largest agriculture state in the country and ornamental plants rank second-largest agricultural product in the state. Wholesale receipts last year from Cherokee, Van Zandt, Smith and Henderson counties totaled more than $250 million, while sales for the nursery and greenhouse industry statewide totaled $1.5 billion.
Dr. Brent Pemberton, research horticulturist with the Texas A&M Agriculture Experiment Station in Overton, told the Tyler, Texas, Morning Telegraph that ornamental plant wholesale sales rose to the number-two position less than 10 years ago. “As far as ag commodity in the state, nursery and greenhouse crops has gone over a billion dollars (annually) in wholesale value now, and it is, I believe, the number-two ag commodity in the state,” Pemberton commented. He also noted that Cherokee County alone accounts for $80 million a year in wholesale farm gate receipts from bedding plant growers.
The experiment station had its annual Overton Horticulture Field Day in June. Founded by Pemberton in 1994, the field day has grown to be the most comprehensive bedding plant trials in Texas, showcasing more than 600 ornamental plant varieties. The event included more than 100 vinca entries, about 20 varieties of ornamental peppers, 60 trailing petunias and 30 verbenas.
Horticulture is the fastest growing agricultural segment in Texas and is more than 90 percent individual or family run. The industry promotes Texas horticulture through nursery, garden center and retailer promotions and through sponsoring Farm School programs across the state.