Rain can be blessing, curse for Texas farmers

By Mike Barnett

Mother Nature is a fickle lady when it comes to moisture. Especially for Texas farmers and ranchers.

Too much. Not enough. Just right.

The third is the least common scenario.

This year, rain has been wild, unpredictable, devastating and wonderful. Sometimes all in the same area.

The season kicked off with abundant moisture in South and Central Texas. Spring came and it rained, rained and rained. Planting was delayed. The wheat crop suffered. Farmers kept looking for a break. And more rain came. Many farmers in South, Central and North Texas never fully recovered. Crops were stunted. Lost. Or never planted.

Moisture in the Southern High Plains was just about right. Cotton planting was a bit late but finally went in the ground. It got off to a good start. Hot, open weather matured the crop. It was starting to look like a very good year, yield wise.

And now the rains come back. Multi-inch totals are predicted across many parts of the state through the weekend.

Farmers in Central and South Texas are dancing with joy. It’s been bone dry for three months. Severe drought has set in over big swaths of the state. Many have dry planted wheat and oats and need the moisture to get the crops going. Looks like they will get their wish.

But frowns abound in the South Plains. Fields were being prepared for harvest. Cotton harvest was going full speed. And the deluge started. And keeps on coming.

The fate of the cotton crop is unknown. Too much rain deteriorates the fiber. Low cotton prices are docked even more. A hard and fast rain can be devastating. Entire crops can be lost.

Such is the cycle in agriculture. Farming and ranching is a crap shoot.

You roll the dice every year. Sometimes you win. Other times you lose.

I, for one, have the ultimate respect for Texas farmers and ranchers. I’m glad they’re willing to take the gamble.

Mike Barnett

Director of Publications
Texas Farm Bureau
I’m a firm believer that farmers and ranchers will continue to meet the needs of a growing world population by employing equal measures of common sense, conservation and technology.
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