Herbs and spices (Crop Group 19) consist of herbs, such as basil and mint,
and spices such as coriander. Herbs are grown for fresh cut leaves or
soft plant parts, usually harvested fresh but may be used fresh or may
be dried and used later. Spices are ground, crushed, or processed parts
of seed, bark or root parts of herbal plants.
Field production. Field production in Texas involves ten to twenty full
time herb growers with 10 to 20 acres of herbs. Additionally, some commercial
vegetable growers also include herbs in their production program. Acreage
estimates of this commercial production is summarized in Table 18. Production
is primarily in the Lower Valley and Winter Garden area. Some herbal plants,
such as aloe vera, dandelion, garlic, fresh parsley, and sesame are covered
elsewhere in this publication. Herbs are typically hand harvested for
fresh culinary use and marketed to upscale groceries and/or restaurants.
of herbs includes small pots produced in greenhouses and wholesaled to
garden centers. Some USDA statistics show 32 greenhouse herb growers in
Texas with gross sales of $32 million.
Part-timers and hobbyists. Small quantities are commonly produced and
marketed for local sales. Numerous, perhaps 50 or more, other herbs and
spices are grown in backyard gardens or landscapes throughout Texas. Several
weedy species, such as lambsquarters, or relatives of horticultural crops,
such as umbels (carrot family) are grown in herbal gardens.
Mint-like annual herb used for cooking, garnish, or medicinal purposes.
Readily cross pollinates and several hybrids are available. Grown in plots
of less than 0.1 acre for local sales. Some commercial harvests. Also
a source of an organic insecticide and fungicide. Pests include Japanese
beetle and annual weeds. Diseases of Botrytis, leaf and Sclerotinia blights,
and Fusarium wilt.
Cilantro is a leafy fern-like
foliage that provides herbal garnish or flavoring for salads, soups, or
other foods. Similar to parsley. A cool-season crop, grown from seed in
the LRGV; planted in weekly intervals from October through March; emerges
in about 2 weeks and ready for fresh harvest in 5 weeks or more with 2
to 3 cuttings/harvests as a green. Perhaps 15% is processed. Petiole and
leaves are cut and tied in bunches for sale. Roots may be left on to keep
the bundle fresher. Herbicides nearly
essential at planting, no insects attack the crop, and diseases may include
leaf spot, Alternaria, and powdery mildew. Coriander the dried seed portion
of cilantro is used as a flavoring agent and spice; about 10 to 15 acres
is commercially produced in Texas.
Established from fall-planted seed and
grows as a perennial. Seed and fruit are harvested for several years in
commercial fields. Seed and leaves used for flavoring. Some used as a
spice in pickling cucumbers. Produced by 10 to 20 commercial growers;
about 82% for seed production. Some small plot production (less than 0.1
acre). Dill pests are similar to those in carrot.
Perennial, grown from vegetative material,
multiple harvests from a field, and sold fresh.
Major pests are loopers and cutworms; diseases are Verticillium wilt and
rust. Produced by 15 to 25 commercial growers in Texas. Menthols and esters
are distilled from peppermint and spearmint in the Pacific Northwest.
If produced to be a
dried herb, parsley is considered an herb. See “Parsley - fresh”
in Leafy Vegetable group. Pests similar to radish and turnip
Hardy evergreen shrub, most common types with upright growth. Narrow green
leaves harvested for fresh or dried flavorings for meats and fish, salads,
baked goods, and tea. Produced as both a cut herb and potted plant; also
used in landscapes. Some weed problems but no major insect or disease
problems. Previously some commercial production on 300 acres in the High
Plains near Seminole for use as an antioxidant for other products but
crop lost due to untimely rains. Root rot in poorly drained soils.
Similar to onions, grow in small clumps,
commonly in pots.
15 acres for local use of leaves,
seed heads, and stems. Little production for seed or oil.
Past production in Hill Country,
but limited by adaptation problems.
Seeded, produces well, and frequently
dried before use.
A common mint with numerous types but
struggles in hot, humid summers.
Contains antioxidants, aromatic; several
types grown in Texas.