Aug. 14 – Over the past three weeks I’ve driven through a good portion of Northeast and Central Texas and the southwestern tip of Oklahoma. Except for a few pockets here and there where farmers have enjoyed a timely rain or two, crop conditions seem about as bad as I’ve seen them in my seven years in Texas.
As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve seen crops and pastures as dry since I started working in agriculture, and that dates back to 1976.
I got into my office this morning and after reading e-mail reports, snail mail that arrived during the weekend and considering my own observations, determined that the outlook is gloomy.
Reports from the Texas High indicate nearly 1 million acres of cotton already in the disaster column. Much of the remaining dryland production is rated poor to very poor and it’s unlikely that a cotton stripper will ever move into many of those fields.
Much of the South Texas crop was lost to drought early in the summer. Cotton and grain suffered severe losses in the Rio Grande Valley and up into the Coastal Bend area.
The Texas Cooperative Extension Service estimates that crop losses already top $4 billion, and every day that passes without rain, the tally rises.
But then I interviewed two farmers in Northeast Texas two weeks ago who were looking at, if not excellent yield potential for a cotton and a corn crop, they were at least expecting good production.
The difference was a timely shower that may have missed much of the county but dropped just enough moisture on specific fields to keep plants viable.
They credit good soil and good soil management to helping take advantage of minimum moisture.
Another farmer in Central Texas reports a similar outcome. He’ll not make a bin-buster corn crop, but he’ll make a decent yield.
Meanwhile, farmers, their commodity organizations and some of their elected officials are trying to convince a sometimes reluctant Congress and White House, that farmers are, indeed, in dire straits, again, and in need of some kind of disaster relief.
If you haven’t called your congressman yet, you might want to soon.