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Panhandle Growers’ Options Narrow

06 February 2014

US - While drought conditions for large parts of Texas were rolling back, the dry weather continued to limit options for producers in the Panhandle, Rolling Plains and South Plains regions, according to reports from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

The Panhandle remained dry, with the western half generally drier, said Rick Auckerman, AgriLife Extension agent for Deaf Smith County.

“In Deaf Smith County, we’re like the rest of the Panhandle — very dry,” Auckerman said. “As for subsoil moisture, there basically is none.”

Options? There’s irrigation, he said. But without supplemental rainfall, dropping aquifer levels will lead to dropping planting rates and looking at other cropping systems.

From testing, aquifers levels were dropping. How much they were going down depended upon how hard they had been pumped, Auckerman said.

“There have been some with 4- to 5-foot reductions just over the past 12 months, depending on the area,” he said. “Most of these guys are trying to get by on 18 inches of water, but as you know, with a corn crop, whether it’s for silage or food corn, it requires quite a bit more moisture than Mother Nature supplies.”

For dryland acreage, which constitutes approximately two-thirds of farmed land in the county, the options are even narrower, Auckerman said. Economic demands will require farmers to plant on dry soil, just in the hope that they will get enough precipitation to bring the crop up.

“If that doesn’t happen, it’ll be tough-decision time,” he said.

TheCropSite News Desk

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