This winter has been exceedingly tough for Central Texas farmers. No one wants to see it last longer than it should.
“They count for rain, and pray for rain,” says Gary Joiner, the Senior Associate Director of Communications for the Texas Farm Bureau.
About 70 percent of Texas is experiencing a drought right now, and it’s going to get even worse with no relief showing on the long range forecast.
“Moisture is needed now for not what is in the ground, but what needs to be planted,” Joiner says.
The severe drought in Central Texas is pushing back spring crop planting.
“Usually in Central Texas, about Valentine’s Day, is when most corn farmers would like to have their crop in the ground. It may not happen this year. They [are] going to have to wait and see if moisture comes in between now and then, or if they plant in a dry seed bed,” Joiner explains.
Right now, farmers are on the edge of a costly guessing game.
“Do you go to the expense of preparing your field? Buying the inputs that you need to plant that corn crop, and then hope for rain? There are risks in doing both, and farmers right now are trying to see what their best option is,” Joiner says.
February is a very critical time for spring crops in Central Texas.
“Corn needs to get in the ground as quickly as it can in the middle of the month. The more you wait, the more risk you have of that corn crop perhaps not getting the available time it needs to mature and to grow,” Joiner says.
Farmers had plenty of rain and moisture in the fields last year.
“Go to 2018, completely different. We fall into [a] window now in which we have had less than half an inch of rain in most of Central Texas, since the beginning of January. So, it’s pretty critical,” Joiner continues.