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Farm and Ranch News November 24, 2015  RSS feed

Texas crop and weather: Fire, rain had nominal impact on South Central Texas agriculture

By Paul Schattenberg


This year’s spinach harvest in South Central Texas has shown both good yield and quality so far. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo) This year’s spinach harvest in South Central Texas has shown both good yield and quality so far. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo) UVALDE – “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.” That lyric from a ‘70s James Taylor song would certainly apply to the residents of South Central Texas over the past few months.

But while Mother Nature has been less than kind to this region, the agricultural losses caused by these natural woes have been less than expected, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts.

“Most of the losses from the fire were smalllandholder losses and didn’t have too much of an agricultural impact,” said Rachel Bauer, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent for Bastrop County. “Some fences around ranches were burned, but there was little loss of livestock. Some smaller livestock, like sheep and goats were lost to the fire, but no large animals that I know of were lost.”

Pastures hit by the fire were already greening up and did not appear to have suffered any longterm damage, she said.

In the agriculturally prolific Winter Garden area, which consists primarily of Dimmit, Frio, La Salle and Zavala counties and includes parts of Atascosa, Maverick, Mc- Mullen, Bexar, Medina, Wilson and Uvalde counties, recent flooding did not damage many crops, said area producers and AgriLife Extension personnel.

“We’re still too wet for planting or harvesting crops,” said Jay Karnes, president of Winter Garden Produce in Uvalde. “The recent flooding destroyed one of our producer’s cabbage crops, but overall the quality and yield of other crops hasn’t been affected.”

While some of the area’s producers have taken a pretty hard beating this year, overall the rains have benefited corn, cotton and grain sorghum crops, said Rob Hogan, AgriLife Extension agricultural economist in Uvalde.

“Producers will also continue to benefit from recharged water sources and from the improved moisture in the soil profile,” Hogan said.

He said additional moisture in the region’s soil will help reduce the amount of water typically used to irrigate crops, which will help lower producer costs and improve their bottom line.

“The spinach harvest has begun and spinach producers are seeing really good yields and quality in what they’ve harvested so far,” said Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist in Uvalde.

The region’s pecan trees also got a boost from recent rains, Stein said.

“The pecan crop this year was good,” Stein said. “Besides that, the pecan trees will now have additional moisture in the soil profile going into winter, which will help protect them from freezes and provide protection for them while they ‘sleep’ through the winter.”

Livestock will also be beneficiaries of recent rains, though not without some potential trouble, said Dr. Rick Machen, AgriLife Extension livestock specialist, Uvalde.

“While the rains are providing lots of forage in area pastures, which is good for all area livestock, some livestock, especially sheep and goats, likely will experience greater parasitism due to the wet conditions,” Machen said.

He said young calves are more likely to have parasites this year than in the past several years due to continued wet conditions.

“Producers need to remember to stay on top of this problem, particularly by taking whatever proactive and preventive measures they can to protect their animals,” Machen said.


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