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Surviving the Texas Drought

June 6, 2013
By: Tyne Morgan, Ag Day TV National Reporter
texas wheat 2
Wheat plants in Texas are only a foot high and most will yield less than 1 bu. per acre. Many farmers say they won’t even harvest their crop this year.  

The drought in Texas is now in its third year, which means growing crops has become a daunting if not impossible task.

As a dust devil barrels across the Texas field, it helps paint a picture of just how dry it is.

"Right now it's dry 10 or 20 foot down, I mean from top to bottom," says Lyle Tate, who farms outside of Amarillo, Texas.

The persisting drought is in its third year. Just last week, 70 mph winds created conditions that could easily be mistaken for the Dust Bowl Era. The winds kicked up dirt, creating low visibility with the potential to damage crops.

"I think if we would have been farming like they were in the 1930s, we would see a huge Dust Bowl, and with our practices now where we're no-tilling and leaving as much cover on top as we can, I mean you see dirt blowing, but i don't think it's near what it would be," says David Cleavinger, a wheat producer in Willoford, Texas.

"If you've got any kind of moisture, it's because you paid for it," says Chance McMillan, a farmer in Plainview, Texas.

The latest drought monitor shows more than 96% of the state is in some level of drought. The worst of it seems to be in the Texas Panhandle, where the highest level of drought consumes much of the area.

The dry dirt is now rock solid, making it difficult for crops to grow.

"Whenever I planted, I couldn't plant into it, the ground was really hard, and I couldn’t get my planter to go in the ground due to the lack of moisture," says McMillan. "So, we plowed it up and replanted it on the second of May."

Farmers are being forced to change their practices to eliminate the potential loss of soil and yield.

"It's just so dry right all the way down, and there's just no sub-moisture whatsoever," says Cleavinger. "That’s the problem. You don't want to touch it, because if you do go in there and plow it, it just puffs it up and makes it blow even worse."

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RELATED TOPICS: AgDay Show, drought



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