Travis Miller is the go-to guy for drought-related questions in Texas. That’s not a fun job these days.

“I’ve looked at a lot of droughts over the years, but I’ve never seen one this bad,” says Miller, associate head, Extension and statewide agronomist at College Station.

“This situation is really serious,” he says. At least 60 percent of the state is rated in extreme or exceptional drought conditions. Add the severe category and it’s 85 percent of the state.

“Every acre in Texas is experiencing drought,” Miller says. “The first casualty is wheat. We’ve probably already lost 60 percent or more of the dryland crop and we’ll lose a lot more if it doesn’t rain soon.

“And cotton farmers have never seen a better price but they can’t plant without moisture.” He says forage and pasture grasses are diminishing.

The South Texas Coastal area is in about as good a shape as anywhere in the state, but crops already planted will need rain soon to survive, he says. “Central Texas has had a few showers that helped for awhile, but without more rain crops will not make it.”

He says cotton farmers in the High Plains had anticipated planting as much as 10 percent more acreage but will be waiting on rain to get dryland crops in. “Those with irrigation will be pumping as hard as they can to pre-water,” he says.

Irrigation may mean farmers can make a crop but production costs will be dear.

“If we get some rain, we will see a planting explosion,” he says.

Drought conditions also have turned the state into a tinder box, extremely vulnerable to wildfires. Miller says estimates late last week put total burned acreage at 1.1 million.  He expects additional fires over the weekend will push that figure to 1.2 or 1.3 million acres.

No economic loss estimates have been released yet, but reports indicate some areas have suffered heavy losses to pasture and rangeland, farm structure, homes and livestock.

Miller says every area of the state is vulnerable to wildfire.