Recent Rains Brought a ‘Mixed Bag’ for Texas Producers

Precipitation from a mid-April storm system was good and bad for Texas farmers, according to the state climatologist.

Heavy rains caused flooding in some areas of the state that damaged corn and other row crop fields and pastures. Around 1,500 of 10,000-acres of corn in Fayette County were drowned out or swept away, said Scott Willey, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent in Fayette.

Flooded fields
A flooded corn field in Fayette County where around 1,500 acres of crops were swept away or drowned out by flooding earlier this month. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Scott Willey)

Much of the damage was limited to bottomland and fields near creeks and rivers, Willey said.

Willey said it was doubtful those producers would replant. He said rye and wheat fields there were also affected by heavy rains and high winds.

Hail caused the total loss of just under 1,000 acres of corn in Matagorda County, according to AgriLife Extension reports.

Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas state climatologist, said the storm system’s effect on individuals varied widely. He said the storm system that caused severe flooding in Houston was not exceptional with regard to overall rainfall and that while it caused widespread damage to some areas, it brought needed moisture to others.

He compared it to a severe storm that dumped an average of 2.5 inches of rain around the state in October 2015. The Corsicana area was hardest hit when that storm system dumped 20 inches of rain and caused severe flooding.

“This April’s event was a big multi-day event but it didn’t do damage in as many parts of the state,” he said.

Notable amounts of moisture that fell in different regions of the state and caused flooding included 10-plus inches in southeast Texas between Fayette and San Jacinto counties and more than 8-inches between Wichita Falls and Stephenville, and in Jack and Palo Pinto counties, he said.

South of Abilene also experienced widespread flooding when more than 5 inches fell as the storm system passed. He said areas where rainfall is scarce or heavy rains rarely occur can be impacted more than areas like East Texas where heavy rain occurs more often.

The Leon River, southwest of Waco, was still 2.5 feet above flood stage on Friday. At its peak, the west fork of the Trinity River was more than 6 feet above flood stage.

“The streams just don’t handle as much water in those areas,” he said.

Ronnie Schnell, AgriLife Extension state cropping systems specialist, College Station, said he believed most of the flooding occurred north and west of croplands. But he said subsequent river and creek swelling may have flooded bottomland and affected row crops after the rains subsided.

Overall, the rains helped soil moisture levels around the state, especially in the Panhandle where topsoil needed moisture to allow farmers to begin planting row crops, he said.

AgriLife Extension district summaries can be found here.

Source: Texas AgriLife

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