Drought Outlook Worse for 2013 than Last Year

The outlook for rain over the next few months is not good, which means a bad outlook for crops as well. It's bad news for farmers, and will have an impact on the local economy.

There are parts of Brooks, Kleberg, Jim Wells, San Patricio and Nueces counties that are all really dry, and that means, as bad as drought conditions were for farmers last year, this year could be even worse.

Extension Program Specialist Mac Young at the Texas A&M University Agrilife Research and Extension Center in Corpus Christi said that some affected areas do not have enough moisture in the top portion of the soil to really germinate any kind of seed. The soil is dry and the grass does not look good, so a lot of farms are holding off planting right now, hoping to get rain, which does not look likely.

However, farmers have to get their seed in the ground soon, because they're required to plant their crops in order to collect insurance.

"The way the insurance works is, you'd buy a certain level of yield protection and price protection, and there's no way that insurance is going to give you the same kind of returns that a full production year would, so it's going to hurt farmers," Young said.

Last year, there was not enough yield to justify harvesting crops. It would have cost more to harvest than what the crop was worth, so a lot of farmers ended up shredding their crops and collecting insurance.

In fact, Young said only about 18-percent of the cotton was harvested in Nueces County last year, and only about 32-percent of the grain was harvested.

Young estimates that agriculture makes up somewhere around 20 or 30-percent of the local economy, so this bad outlook for crops is going to affect lots of people.


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