Everything you need to know about recent rains, but were afraid to ask

By Gene Hall

You can’t really appreciate a rain unless it comes in the midst of a drought or even one significant enough to break a drought. The blessed moisture that fell from the sky this past weekend, Oct. 8-9, was the former. No drought breaker this rain. The epic drought in Texas of 2011 is still with us, but this rain was welcome just the same.

As I tuned in to see my beloved Texas Rangers battle the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series, I was astonished to see torrents of rain falling from the sky at the Ballpark in Arlington. Players, in rain delay, peeked out from the dugout as play was halted twice by the deluge. Rainouts were not a problem in 2011. The team played 27 games when the temperature was over 100 degrees at first pitch. Heavy rain arrived in Waco later that evening.

The questions always come to us here at Texas Farm Bureau. From reporters and others, we heard, “How much rain was there?  Will it help?  Were the farmers glad to see it?”  The answers were: “It varies. Yes, somewhat. And hell yes!”

The best thing to remember about this rainfall—ranging from three inches in my own rain gauge in Waco to six inches in some spots, to some unfortunate souls who got nothing at all—is that nothing like it fell last October. It was a solid, year-long stretch from September 2010 to last weekend that rain across Texas was very scarce. This October rain will raise spirits in the Texas agricultural community.

As for agricultural production in 2011, it won’t help much. That shipped sailed by August. The spring planted crops in most of the state were a lost cause. The 2011 winter wheat crop, pardon the pun, was toast. Pasture conditions deteriorated badly, to the point where record numbers of livestock were sold due to lack of feed and water. Future supplies of beef might be scarce. It’s too late for any significant growth of grass this year.

However, rains like this will put some moisture back in the soil. Winter wheat planting will occur with a little more confidence to go with that soil moisture. Pastures could begin to rebound in the spring—if we get more rain.

Even now, long range forecasts say Texas weather patterns will continue to be influenced by La Nina, which means more dry weather ahead. Still, that could not dampen spirits this past weekend as the weathered faces of farmers and ranchers turned to the sky and watched the precious moisture fall. For a people who were becoming weary, disheartened and perhaps a bit desperate, it was a welcome sight indeed.

Photo © David Smith | Dreamstime.com

Gene Hall

Public Relations Director
Texas Farm Bureau
I believe that the only hope for a food secure world is capitalism and reasonable profits for America’s farm and ranch families–that the first element of sustainability is economic survival.
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