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US Farmers Fighting Wind Erosion and Continued Drought

US Farmers Fighting Wind Erosion and Continued Drought

09 April 2014

US - During the first week of April, parts of the North, East, Central and Rolling Plains regions received from 0.5 inch to 2 inches of rain, according the National Weather Service and reports from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

The rest of the state remained largely dry, receiving from a trace to 0.5 inch, which did little to stop the further encroachment of severe to extreme drought in some areas.

According to the April 1 US Drought Monitor summary, nearly 67 per cent of the state remained in one stage of drought or another.

Texas High Plains farmers were using “sand fighters” to create dirt clods and slow wind-blown soil erosion, according to reports from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
(Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.)

Though AgriLife Extension county agent reports from all of the Texas High Plains were dismal, those from the Panhandle continued to be the most dire, where the entire region was either under extreme or exceptional drought conditions.

Dale Dunlap, AgriLife Extension agent in Wheeler County, reported that dryland wheat farmers were already bringing in crop insurance adjusters. In some areas, irrigated wheat was suffering from moisture stress as well.

J.R. Sprague, AgriLife Extension agent in Lipscomb County, reported wildfires burned approximately 10,000 acres the past three weeks.

Throughout the Panhandle, high winds and extremely dry soils meant farmers had to fight wind-blown soil erosion.

In the South Plains, high winds were also drying out soils, but drought monitor ratings were less severe in parts of the region than in the Panhandle.

Long-range forecasts spelled worsening conditions for that area too, according to Mark Brown, AgriLife Extension agent for Lubbock County. The entire region needs above-normal summer rains to pull it out of the drought, but the 90-day forecast is for below-normal rainfall, he said.

Nearly all the Rolling Plains region was also under extreme to severe drought, according to the monitor.

Ryan Martin, AgriLife Extension agent for Motley County, said warmer temperatures have brought out summer grasses, but with zero soil moisture the prospects for growth are poor.

The most recent drought development has been its expansion in Central Texas. Since the April 1 report, the area did receive some rain, with about 0.5 the most common, while some areas got about 1.5 inch.

The exceptions in the Central region were those counties to the east, which have shared some of the better rains the rest of the state have received.

TheCropSite News Desk

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