Is this the worst Texas drought ever? No, but it is certainly one of the worst

Livestock sales expected to rise over the next few months
BY TEXAS BUSINESS.COM


Ponds throughout Texas, like this one in the Panhandle, continued to evaporate because of high temperatures and winds. Livestock producers depend upon such ponds as water sources for cattle. 
Texas Agrilife/Kay Ledbetter Ponds throughout Texas, like this one in the Panhandle, continued to evaporate because of high temperatures and winds. Livestock producers depend upon such ponds as water sources for cattle. Texas Agrilife/Kay Ledbetter Is t his t he worst Texas drought ever?

The answer is no, but it certainly is one of the worst, according to John Nielsen- Gammon, Texas A&M University professor and Texas state climatologist.

“Based on Palmer Drought Severity Index values, this is the third-worst drought Texas has ever seen in the month of May,” Nielsen-Gammon writes in his blog, the Climate Abyss. “Records go back to 1895. May also marks the end of the driest eight-month period on record.”

The worst droughts remain those in 1918 and 1956, according Nielsen-Gammon.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 50 percent of the state remained in what is termed an “exceptional” drought, which means a once in 50-year occurrence.

More than 90 percent of the state was experiencing either a severe or exceptional drought. Only parts of north central and northeast Texas were not at least abnormally dry as of May 31.

It may not be the worst drought ever, but lifelong farmers throughout the state are telling Texas AgriLife Extension Service agents this is the driest they’ve ever experienced.

“ We at her c ont i nue d to be hot and dry,” said Mark Brown, AgriLife Extension agent for Lubbock County. “Blowing dust from gusting winds occurred on several days. Irrigation continues where feasible. May ended with 0.26 inches of moisture recorded, making this year the driest five-month period on record for Lubbock.”

A nd while a few week s ago, rains may have greened things up in East Texas, the region remains in a drought, according to AgriLife Extension agent reports.

“We are in bad need of rain,” said Clint Perkins, AgriLife Extension agent for Wood County, about 100 miles east of Dallas. “Hay production is starting w ith drastically decreased yields. I have reports that the first cutting is one-quarter to half of normal.”

“Corn, milo and cotton are under severe drought-like conditions and stressing,” said Pasquale Swaner, AgriLife Extension agent for Falls County, near Temple. “Stocker cattle producers have shipped cattle to feedlots. Pasture conditions are severe with little hay production across the county.”

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

Central Texas: The rain from two weeks ago played out. Stockwater tanks were drying out, and pastures were not producing much grass. Strong winds and high temperatures continued to make conditions worse. Some producers made their first hay cutting for fear of losing the crop. Hay yields were expected to be about half of the normal crop. Without rain soon, producers expected to have to start selling cows again.

Coastal Bend: The region was hot, windy and dry with above-normal temperatures and no rain in the forecast.

Pastures continued to deteriorate, and ranchers reported increased supplemental feeding of livestock.

Sorghum was maturing quickly because of heat and moisture stress, and producers were planning to harvest soon.

East: The region remained very hot, dry and windy, which further aggravated drought conditions. Producers began to cut hay, but were only getting onefourth to one- half of normal yields.

Farmers were spraying to control grasshoppers and horn flies. Livestock producers continued culling herds, and prices at sale barns were falling. Creeks and ponds were drying up throughout the region. In Trinity County some landowners were taking advantage of the drought to clean out and enlarge ponds.


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The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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