He says in 25 years crop production on the Texas High Plains will be different—different crops or different production systems. Things have already changed. “In some areas, we still have enough water to grow corn but it’s less than we had 10 years ago,” he says. “A lot of farmers have switched from corn to cotton. We may see another step, from irrigated cotton to dryland production, pasture or wheat.

“We could have too little water to grow the crops we once did. Dairies and feedlots also use a lot of water. And they need forage.”

Corn comes in from the Midwest, Miller says, but hauling in silage would be an expensive nightmare. “Silage needs to be grown locally.”

He says corn silage may phase into sorghum silage, which takes about 60 percent as much water.

He’s a bit cautious about the pending planting season for the High Plains, despite recent rain events. “We don’t want to go into a growing season with a dry soil profile,” he says. “We can’t catch up.”

He says Southern Plains cotton farmers have until May to begin planting. “But grain needs to go in soon. Farmers can wait until late June to pant sorghum but they can’t delay corn.”

Miller says Texas farmers and ranchers are a tough lot, and Texas Research and Extension programs will continue to work with them to develop new systems and new crop options to overcome the harsh growing conditions they often face.

“We will struggle to find answers,” he says.