What is in this article?:
- Water Crisis: Historic crop losses possible in the Texas Rio Grande Valley
- Limits on water for irrigation
- Citrus, carrot and cabbage harvest delayed
- South Texas crop losses could exceed $100 million
- Loss could be at historic level.
- Rainfall causes varying emotions, depending on crop stage.
SOUTH TEXAS drought- related crops losses this year in cotton, corn and grain sorghum could double the $50 million lost in 2006.
Citrus, carrot and cabbage harvest delayed
Citrus growers, on the other hand, are wrapping up harvest and even if more rain should fall they should be able to access groves to complete harvest. But as a result of recent rains, there is heightened concern over an escalating number of Asian citrus psyllids, carriers of Huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease. Wet weather can cause citrus trees to produce new shoots, which is where psyllids lay eggs and reproduce.
Citrus greening is a bacterial disease not harmful to humans but can eventually kill citrus trees. Citrus growers have been on alert since the disease was first discovered in a Valley citrus grove last year. So far, continued control and regular spraying has contained the disease, but a concern remains that the disease could spread if not managed properly.
The disease decimated the Florida citrus industry a few years back and only recently has been detected in California.
Wet fields this week have kept many Valley farmers waiting for dry weather. Also affected by wet conditions are the Valley’s large cabbage crops, fully mature and now ready for harvest.
“You don’t want to get mud on cabbage because they can’t be easily washed,” Says Anciso. “But the Valley’s carrot crop, like citrus, can wait long enough for conditions to dry without suffering significant damage”
But the sword is two-edged—“if it doesn’t rain anymore before harvest is complete.”
While onion, cabbage, citrus and carrot growers could use a little dry weather to finish harvest operations, farmers all across the Valley say they are almost always ready for additional rain showers.
“Our seed corn is off to a good start in the Valley, and if we get more timely rain, we may see the prospect for grain sorghum to look better. As far as cotton goes, dryland cotton is past the stage for much help, but if we get rain and more water for irrigation, we might have some hope for the fewer acres of cotton planted in irrigated fields,” adds Cowan.
He says while last week’s rains fall short of saving the season all together, it at least provided enough water on irrigated fields equal to an additional round of irrigation. Since most farmers were told to expect no more than one irrigation opportunity from surface water this year, the rain provides a positive and welcome impact—and just enough hope that total crop disaster can be avoided.