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Texas Extension puts state's drought losses near $316 million

Drought this growing season has ravaged Texas' wheat crop and destroyed substantial South Texas crop production acreage, resulting in losses estimated at $316 million, Texas Cooperative Extension reports.

Hardest hit have been the state's wheat producers, who have lost $110 million this year. An additional $16 million has been estimated in wheat grazing losses.

South Texas cotton and feedgrain farmers have seen substantial losses as rainfall during the critical parts of the growing season never fell.

South Texas losses include cotton, $95 million; corn, $20 million; sorghum $60 million; and hay production, $15 million. “Corpus Christi, the Rio Grande Valley area, they are just scorched,” said Dr. Roland Smith, Extension economist.

Lack of water in the reservoirs on the Rio Grande River has water for irrigation in the Rio Grande Valley very limited, according to Extension officials.

“What water is available for irrigation is being used on higher-value crops like sugar cane and citrus, leaving most of the cotton and sorghum for dryland production,” said Dr. John Robinson, Extension economist at Weslaco.

Dryland cotton and feedgrains in the Coastal Bend area have been equally scorched. Rainfall in the region for the March to May time period — a critical time for the region's agricultural crops — has been only 27 percent of normal.

“They had a decent rain on April 7, but that has been the last significant rain since then,” said Dr. Travis Miller, Extension program leader for soil and crop sciences at Texas A&M University. “The Gulf Coast, there about Refugio and below that line, they've missed rain and have gone without rain most of the growing season.”

Portions of Central Texas have been affected by drought conditions, particularly corn acreage, Miller said.

“We've had multiple calls from the Waco area asking what droughted-out corn silage was worth,” he said.

Meanwhile, of the 2.2 million acres of wheat planted last fall in the Texas Panhandle, only 700,000 acres will be harvested this year, according to the Texas Agricultural Statistics Service. Some of the wheat acres will be “grazed out” by stocker cattle, according to Dr. Steve Amosson, Extension economist in Amarillo.

However, the acreage reports indicate less than half of the acres that were harvested last year will be cut this year in the region.

Scattered rain showers through portions of Central and East Texas have given hope to the region's hay producers looking for a second cutting of hay.

“Most people have gotten one cutting of hay. and (prior to the rain) most of the pastures looked as if we were in July,” Miller said. The recent rain “might get us another cutting of hay, which would be really beneficial.”

The following are losses by commodity:

  • Wheat (statewide) $110 million.
  • Wheat grazing losses $16 million.
  • South Texas cotton: $95 million.
  • South Texas corn: $20 million.
  • South Texas sorghum: $60 million.
  • South Texas hay production: $15 million.
  • Total losses projected as of June 10: $316 million.
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