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Farm and Ranch News September 14, 2010  RSS feed

Hermine brings flooding and some relief from the heat

Texas crop, weather
By Robert Burns

COLLEGE STATION -- The rain and cooler weather brought by Hermine will no doubt offer some relief to heat and drought-stressed crops, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

In the Rolling Plains, the storm brought rain to droughtstressed cotton on the day of this report, but it was too soon to say exactly how much relief it will give, said Dr. Todd Baughman, AgriLife Extension agronomist based in Vernon.

"In the Rolling Plains area, the cotton and soybeans had been stressed from heat and dry weather," Baughman said. "We averaged 104 degrees at one of our weather station sites for the entire month of August."

Only 10 percent of the cotton in the Rolling Plains is irrigated; the rest is dryland, Baughman noted.

The rain could possibly help some of the later-planted cotton, if there is favorable weather during the fall, he said. But the earlier-planted cotton had already been cut out before the rain.

Peanuts were doing well where irrigators could keep up, but if they got behind then yields will definitely be adversely affected, Baughman said.

Baughman said many companies are working on drought-tolerant peanut varieties, but triple digit heat is hard to deal with.

"Drought tolerance is definitely important for us, but often times, heat is as big a factor as drought," he said.

This year's triple-digit summer may become the norm in a few decades, said Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas A&M University professor and Texas state climatologist.

"The basic message is that parts of Texas have been running three to four degrees above normal for the past couple of summers," Nielsen Gammon said. "It turns out those temperatures will be pretty much what's to be expected in 2050 and 2060, according to computer projections of global warming. In fact, we've got a taste of things to come."

Nielsen-Gammon noted that average temperatures have been rising about one degree per decade since the 1970s.

Short-range forecasts are harder, Nielson-Gammon said, but because of a strong La Nina current this fall in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, he expected this winter to be warmer and drier than normal.

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