What is in this article?:
- Rainfall amounts variable across Texas High Plains.
- Wind gusts exceed 80 MPH.
- Some crop damage expected.
Fields with cover crops appear to have weathered June wind storms better than fields that had no cover.
Sometimes storm clouds come with silver linings; sometimes they bring high winds, damaging hail and blowing sand.
Recent fronts that moved through the Texas High Plains offered a bit of both. Folks in areas that picked up much-needed rain could trade a bit of blowing sand, maybe even a few hailstones and high winds, for the precipitation that will go a little way toward restoring depleted soil moisture. In some cases, farmers now have moisture to complete late-spring seeding; in others, recent rainfall will provide moisture to germinate seed already in the ground. And some farmers with may be able to turn off systems for a day or two and save water and fuel costs.
If you are enjoying reading this article, please check out Southwest Farm Press Daily and receive the latest news right to your inbox.
But other areas received the wind and blowing sand, along with other damaging conditions, and received little to no rain from the events.
Some areas received significant hail and wind damage, says Mary Jane Buerkle, Director of Communications and Public Affairs Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.
“It really depends on where you are. Lloyd Arthur from Ralls had some significant damage as did some growers up in the Spade area east of Littlefield. We also heard of some significant damage in the Friona area, and I ran into someone from Cotton Center yesterday who said about 75 percent of their crop was wiped out.”
Buerkle says some of the damaged cotton may “bounce back.”
“The storms that have blown through Gaines County have brought a lot of blowing sand and very little measurable rainfall,” says Texas AgriLife Extension integrated pest management agent Manda Anderson. “Due to a lack of rainfall, we will likely see no dryland production in 2013,” she says.
Even irrigated cropland did not escape the storms’ wrath. “The relentless winds, blowing sand, and low pumping capacities have added to the difficulty of getting a stand established during a drought.” Once a crop is up, farmers have to “keep the stand up and growing.” Anderson adds that getting a center pivot unit around a field in time to irrigate adequately, “has been a chore for most producers.”
Cover crops have paid off. “Fields without a cover crop have the most wind damage; fields with a cover crop seem to be holding up a little better.”
Monti Vandiver, Northwest Plains IPM agent, says June 5 rainfall brought “some much needed precipitation,” to an area where “exceptionally dry conditions have dominated local weather.”