Denis Holbrook, the owner of South Texas Organics, is looking for the perfect papaya. In fact, his crews have planted more than a dozen varieties of papaya from all over the world in his groves near Mission, Texas. As we took a tour of them, we saw some rows of papaya trees that were almost all dead, while other rows of trees were growing extremely well.
We sampled some papaya slices from ripe fruit on various trees—a few tasted okay, but some tasted very sweet. The giant Mexican papayas tolerate the climate well, Holbrook told me, but he is hoping one of the sweeter varieties from Hawaii or Jamaica can adapt to the South Texas growing season.
I visited Holbrook while working on a travel story titled Grapefruit League that appears in the February issue of Houstonia, now on newstands. The story is about vacationing in the Valley during the winter—the peak of grapefruit season.
Holbrook's company South Texas Organics grows the organic Texas red grapefruit you buy at Whole Foods. His company also exports a lot of grapefruit to the rest of the country.
I'm looking forward to the day when we can also buy Texas organic papaya at the grocery store. If Holbrook's experiments suceed, it may be pretty soon.