Grain sorghum and cotton are the two big crops here in South Texas, but the farmers that produce those crops are having an extremely difficult year. They say it just hasn't rained at the right time for their crops.
So how will our long hot summer impact area farmers?
Experts say these producers are definitely going to be hit, and as a result, the economy's going to feel it, locally, statewide and nationally.
The Agrilife Extension Agent for Kleberg County showed the devastating impact that the lack of timely rains have had on the grain sorghum and cotton crops in Kingsville on Thursday. Those two crops play a major role in the South Texas economy. The only help farmers are going to get is from crop insurance, but it won't be nearly enough.
Take into consideration how big of an operation producing the crops is. Farmers have to pay for their equipment and their labor for starters, before they ever get to turning a profit. It's somewhat of a risky business, because with these two crops, it's not just about how much rain we get, but when the rain falls.
"Last year, as far as average rainfall, you know, we pretty much had the same amount of rainfall as we had this year," said Frank Escobedo, Kleberg County Agrilife extension agent. "But we had those timely rains right when the plant needed the rains, and so that makes a big difference. And as you can see here, there's a lot of, we're starting to have cracks on the soil. We see the plants that are suffering, especially now that the sun's out, and so we're definitely in need of some rain."
The key to getting good yield is getting a good rain right before there's a seed in the ground. It makes the seed germinate, and startup. Then, getting other rainfalls at key stages in the development of the plant is key. The lack of rain is also having a devastating impact on cattle ranchers. All you have to do is take a look at the pastures in the area, and it's plain to see that cattle don't have enough grass to graze on.
"When they do bring cattle back over here to this pasture, it means that they're going to be very selective as to what they want to graze on," Escobedo said. "And those weeds don't provide the protein that an animal requires, the nutrients that the animal requires."
Last year, farmers sort of lucked out, because while we didn't receive a lot of rain, it rained at the right times; but this year, that has not happened, and everybody is going to feel it.
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