The value of 2001 crops and livestock produced in Texas is expected to reach $15 billion, boosting the economies of rural communities throughout the state, according to an economist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.

“As we look at the year ahead, we can expect a $1 billionto $2 billion increase, which will put us at $15 billion, perhaps $16 billion including all crops, livestock and related activities that are growing and strengthening our economy,” said Dr. Carl Anderson, an extension economist. “That's going to be a plus in keeping our rural areas viable.”

Above average rainfall in many parts of the state is making for a potentially excellent growing season for crops, while beef prices continue to maintain steady.

“We've got a bright spot in crops,” Anderson said. “We've got good moisture across the state, and even though prices are not high, we could see crop income reach about $6 billion this year.

“Beef is a big commodity. We've got some of the best beef prices for calves and for fed cattle we've had in many years.”

Anderson said other agricultural income sources this year will come from poultry, dairy, sheep, swine and egg production. Horses used for recreation, coupled with the leasing of land for hunting and fishing rights, along with the timber industry in east Texas will add $1.7 billion this year to the state's agricultural income.

An extremely wet spring has recharged soil profiles through most of the state as farmers are anticipating a normal growing season following the 2000 drought and droughts experienced during the latter part of the 1990s.

“As we look across the state of Texas, many production areas have had different levels of moisture,” Anderson said. “We've had good rains in November, December, January and February throughout all of the state, particularly in the eastern half.

“Moisture conditions are excellent going into the growing season and we are seeing the opportunity to make a full crop yield. But we could be getting too much of a good thing if the wet spring delays crop planting beyond optimal dates.

“We've got good moisture conditions up to the Southern High Plains and in the Lubbock area there — not quite as much — but they've had good snowfall, even seeing an inch to an inch-and-a-half of rain recently falling in that particular area where we've got about 4 million acres of cotton.

“Of course Texas is the largest cotton producing state in the nation. We're all excited about getting our cotton crop planted. I think we'll have about 6.5 million acres statewide.”

Anderson said cotton acreage has an excellent chance now of making a good crop “providing we have some good rains throughout the growing season.”

The nursery industry is also thriving in Texas, thanks to new construction both in the residential and commercial sectors, Anderson said.

“We're seeing a very diversified agriculture coming into Texas,” he said. “That's what we're going to need as we see some commodities that will be greater in competition as we continue the globalization of agriculture.”


Blair Fannin is an Extension communications specialist for the Texas A&M University System.