The Frio County Extension Office

The Frio County Extension Office

Frio County in the Winter Garden Region of Southwest Texas, shares its eastern border with Atascosa county, its southern border with LaSalle county, its western border with Zavala county, and its northern border with Medina County. The county is named after the Frio River, which flows northwest to southeast through the county. Pearsall, the county seat, is located on the Missouri-Pacific Railroad fifty miles southwest of San Antonio and seventy miles east of the United States- Mexico border at Eagle Pass. Frio county forms a rectangle thirty-seven miles east to west and thirty miles north to south; it comprises 725,004 acres or 1,133 square miles.

Frio County is in the Northern Rio Grande Plain Major Land Resource Area. The land surface is nearly level to rolling and generally slopes to the southeast. Elevations range from 400 to 850 feet above sea level.

In 1871, the Texas Legislature approved a bill organizing Frio County. At this time Frio, or Frio City, a small community located at the Presidio Road Crossing of the Frio River, was named as the county seat. In 1880, the International Great Northern Railroad extended its line from San Antonio to Laredo, by passing Frio City. Pearsall a new town established near the railroad, became the county seat in 1883. Frio City became known as Frio Town and was eventually deserted. Today, Pearsall is the center of industry and trade for Frio County.

Farming began in 1860 along the Leona river. Only three farmers were reported in the county census at this time. After the construction of the railroad in 1883, many farmers moved into the county. By 1890, cotton was a major crop in the county, although some corn was grown. Prior to the drilling of the first artesian wells in 1905 and 1908, only dryland crops were grown. Since then, most farmers have drilled wells into the underlying aquifer and are able to pump water for irrigation. During the 1930′s, farmers began to replace cotton with peanuts.

Today, agriculture and agribusiness farms are vital economic industries for Frio County. A number of crops are grown including peanuts (13,000 acres), vegetables (20,000 acres), grain sorghum (9,000 acres), corn (4,000 acres), cotton (2,000 acres) and small grains (10,000 acres). Beef production is still a strong enterprise in the county with approximately 18,000 cows, 37,000 stockers and 17,500 fed cattle, and the hunting industry remains an economically strong enterprise for many landowners. In 1997 Frio County had 485 farms with 662,124 acres with an average size of 1,365 acres per farm.

According to the census, Frio County’s population changed 21 percent from 1990 to 2000. The county’s population was 13, 472 in 1990 and 16,252 in 2000, an increase of 2, 780. In 2000, the median age was 30.7 years versus a statewide average of 32.3 years and a national average of 35.3 years. Pearsall, the county seat, had a population of about 7,157. Dilley, the second largest town, had a population of about 4,166. Other communities in the county include Moore, Bigfoot, Schattel, Frio Town, Divot and Derby.