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Texas crop, weather

Much of Texas received substantial rains in the past weeks, but nowhere was it more needed than in southwest Texas, said Dr. Jose Peña, Texas AgriLife Extension Service economist based at Uvalde.

"The average was about 5 inches, but there were 10 or even 12 inches in some places," Peña said. "An excellent rain after many months of severely dry conditions."

Though the rain came hard and fast over the first two days, which resulted in more runoff than would have been optimal, the rain improved conditions across the board. One of the biggest benefits was to rangeland and pasture grasses, which were in danger of being lost after one of the hottest, driest summers in history, Peña said.

"We might be able to save a lot of the grasses," he said. "As the drought continues, birds eat the seeds, and the whole area degrades. By the rain coming, a lot of seeds will be able to germinate." The rain was also a plus for field crops, even commonly irrigated crops such as peanuts and cabbage, pickling cucumbers and green beans, he said.

"In terms of fall-planted crops, we have many winter vegetables that will be able to take advantage of the rain," Peña said.

Though there was a lot of runoff into rivers, stock tanks, many of which were dry, were also replenished.

"Without water in the stock tanks there's no way that livestock and wildlife can survive," he said. "There are some wells, but we need stock tanks, and they were dry."

Still, it would have been better if the rain had come a little slower, as much as the water was lost to crops and rangeland.

"The statistics are going to indicate we got better than we actually did in terms of rain capture," Peña said. "We need more rain to sustain everything. We're still at 60 percent of our long-term average. There's just no way we can say the drought is over."

More information on drought in Texas can be found at the Web site of the Drought Joint Information Center.

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