Aug. 28 — I stepped outside this morning to retrieve my newspaper and was surprised to find rain steadily drizzling. We had a storm late yesterday that produced some interesting noise and a bit of lightning along with much appreciated rainfall.

But today was one of those constant drizzles I normally associate with November. Temperatures moderated. At last check Denton was holding at 79 degrees. I may need a sweater.

A look at the state weather map shows a more colorful palette than has been apparent for months. The green spots that indicate light precipitation had plenty of company from yellow, red, orange and a few brown splotches that stand for varying degrees of heavier rainfall.

According to latest crop reports, most of the state has received significant amounts of rainfall over the past few weeks. Most of it moved across New Mexico and into Oklahoma so the entire Southwest is at least a bit better off than was the case two weeks ago.

How much good has it done 2006 crop prospects? Not much. Rain came too late to help dryland cotton or the grain sorghum, soybean or corn crops that were not irrigated.

Stock tanks remain dry holes. Ranchers continue to cull herds because they have too little feed and too little water to keep animals healthy. Good hay is hard to find.

But recent rain will help folks as they plant small grains for winter forage. Pastures will get a boost from the moisture. And folks who have irrigated all summer to keep crops alive may have had an opportunity to shut systems down for a day or two and saved a bit of expensive energy.

It’s not enough, but it’s a good start. The drought, the experts say, is not broken, but a decent rain is a good way to start the process.

e-mail: rsmith@farmpress.com