Texas Farmers Unhappy with Rainfall Swings

Rain clouds approaching cattle. Photo by Dirk Ingo Franke

Rain clouds approaching cattle. Photo by Dirk Ingo Franke

According to Texas A&M AgriLife extension agent for Gregg County Randy Reeves, the weather has swung from the two extremes of “heavy rain to drought and back to rains again.”

He continued: “It has delayed just about everything. Hay harvest, spraying for weeds, fertilizing. Going from almost one extreme to the other has made it difficult for producers to adjust.”

Hay farmer Dwight Berryhill from Kilgore said that the lack of summer rain and the overabundance of rain in the autumn, made it difficult just to bring in the hay for harvest.

“You have to wait so long before you can get at it, and that affects the quality as well as when you’re able to get a return from it,” he said. “It’s not the only crop that pays my bills, but if it was I’d been in a heck of a state right now.”

Delays in hay production in turn effects cattlemen and ranchers who are forced to supplement their feed sooner than what is normal, and the rain prevented them from planting clover and rye grasses for the winter pasture, Reeves added.

Beef and forage producer from Longview, Edward Mansinger said he did not even bother to plant a winter pasture due to the summer drought. “I figured it wouldn’t even be able to come up,” he said.

The overly rain-filled soil is also a challenge for the health of the cattle.

“In weather like this, it takes a lot more nutrition to keep them going,” Mansinger said. “There are spots with standing water that, no sooner does it start to dry up that you’ve got another rainfall making things wet and muddy again. It can be hard on your cattle.”

There is some good news among all the bad: groundwater reserves are being replenished.

“The rain has certainly filled our ponds and waterways up, in some cases to overflowing,” Reeves said.

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