“Even irrigated farmers experienced huge losses as water supplies that they could deliver were not adequate to produce crops under these conditions with no rain,” he said. “The drought started in the fall of 2010, resulting in very little winter grazing. Many of our pastures and hay meadows never greened up after the winter.”

Diminishing water supplies and no local hay production dramatically increased the cost of maintaining livestock herds, resulting in massive culling and unprecedented runs at livestock sale rings beginning in June, Miller said.

“Hay was purchased as far away as Montana, dramatically driving up the cost of supplemental feed. While much of the state began to receive some relief from this drought in late fall or early winter, most of the large areas of the plains and West Texas have yet to receive any relief.”

Through August of 2011, AgriLife Extension economists previously reported $5.2 billion in drought losses. The following are updated drought losses for 2011 by commodity with previously reported loss estimates from August in parenthesis:

  • Livestock: $3.23 billion (up from $2.06 billion);
  • Lost hay production value: $750 million (no change);
  • Cotton: $2.2 billion (up from $1.8 billion);
  • Corn: $736 million (up from $409 million);
  • Wheat: $314 million (up from $243 million);
  • Sorghum: $385 million (up from $63 million);