While the water crisis for the Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley is far from over, late April and early May rains have brought some hope to farmers who had all but given up on any chance of a productive crop year. But in spite of a few soaking showers, most agree much more rain will be needed for a successful fall harvest.

Sonia Lambert, general manager of the San Benito irrigation district (SBID), says rain showers over the last three weeks may keep some farmers from using up the last of their irrigation allocations, at least for a two more weeks.

Some irrigation districts in the Valley, including SBID, had estimated they would run out of water supplies by the end of May, and without additional rain in the days ahead, that remains a possibility. But Lambert says any rain is a help, and thunderstorms the last couple of days in April and again during the first ten days of May brought just enough relief to bring "guarded hope" the growing season still has a chance for redemption.

"The rains have postponed it [running out of water]," Lambert said, indicating her district is hoping to stretch water supplies until the end of June.

In the Mid-Valley, Mercedes Irrigation District officials believe they may have enough irrigation water to make it to the middle of July "or a little longer," but a few districts are still in desperate need of more water, and "as quickly as possible."

Over the last three weeks the Harlingen area has received just over four inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service station in Brownsville, but until the recent rains, measureable precipitation had not fallen since early January.

While the recent rains have helped sorghum, corn, citrus and sugar cane crops, they were too little and too late to help most cotton growers. Farmers say irrigated cotton might be the exception, but dryland cotton stands virtually no chance this late in the season.