Farm Press Blog

Summertime in Texas not all that easy

• It’s supposed to hit 106 today in North Texas. • The cotton is not high. • The heat is intense and oppressive. And dangerous.

And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high

George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward (who wrote the lyrics) apparently never spent a summer in Texas.

Today will mark the 31stor 32nd(one loses count) consecutive day of temperatures topping 100 degrees. It’s supposed to hit 106 today in North Texas. Tomorrow will be even hotter and we’re looking at the century mark for the next ten days.

We don’t recall what rainfall is like.

I’ve watered and kept tomato and pepper plants alive since May just to watch blooms wither up in the intense heat and fall off the vines. One shriveled up jalapeno is the sum of my harvest. But it’s just a hobby. I don’t depend on those plants for food or income. I am concerned about my farmer friends.

I’ve seen quite a few cotton fields this summer and the cotton is not high. If the fields were not irrigated, very few, if any, plants even emerged. Cotton in many fields that are watered is struggling just to keep up. It’s heartbreaking to think about the losses and the expenses mounting every day.

If fish are jumping it’s just to get out of the hot water.

The livin’ ain’t all that easy. A few minutes dead-heading flowers is about all it takes for me to get enough outside activity for the day. The heat is intense and oppressive. And dangerous.

I worry about my friends who have no option but to venture out into the heat to check cattle, monitor irrigation systems, spray fields or mend fences. I hope they take necessary precautions: hydrate, schedule work early in the day when possible, and make certain someone knows exactly where they’re working—just in case.

Southwest farmers and ranchers are accustomed to hot summers. They have seen their share of droughts, too. They’ve witnessed few this hot and this dry.

Summers like this one may be rare, fortunately, but rare events can still create incredible hardship.

I suspect some farms will not survive this hot, dry summer. Poor yields or necessary herd liquidations may be too much loss for some of the most economically vulnerable to overcome. Even the best insurance coverage may not be enough to bridge the gap for losses incurred on a crop that’s as expensive to produce as this one will be.

I also know that most will make it through. They will not be satisfied with their production, the number of cattle left on the ranch or the bottom line after they deduct the costs of irrigating crops and feeding animals all summer. But they’ll farm or ranch again next year and persevere because that’s what they do.

One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll take to the sky

That would be the day when it begins to rain.



Discuss this Blog Entry 2

Kevin Welch (not verified)
on Aug 2, 2011

Can't say much more than that was very well done. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

Kevin Welch (not verified)
on Aug 2, 2011

You are very eloquent on how it feels here in the Panhandle of Texas (in addition to a lot of other places)

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