Rains help, but drought maintains its stubborn hold
Is Texas still in a drought? It depends upon where you are and whom you talk to, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor and reports from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agents across the state.
Despite rains—substantial in some cases—drought still had a hold on much of Texas. According to the June 4 U.S. Drought Monitor, more than 87 percent of the state was still suffering from moderate, severe, extreme or exceptional drought.
(For an explanation of the drought categories see http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/classify.htm.)
The areas with the worse drought conditions remained the Panhandle, parts of the South Plains, South and the Southwest regions.
Many parts of the state received rain since the monitor’s June 4 report, and more recent reports from AgriLife Extension county agents reflect the effects of the added moisture. But the rain was by no means equally distributed. In the Panhandle, for example, agents reported the rain in some counties measured in inches, while others got no more than a sprinkle.
For example, J.D. Ragland, AgriLife Extension agent for Randall County, Amarillo, reported there was “no significant accumulation.”
“Even irrigated corn and cotton are beginning to suffer, and no dryland will be planted until some kind of rainfall occurs,” he said.
The day after high temperatures of 106 degrees were recorded on June 4, Lubbock County was visited by a line of severe thunderstorms and extremely high, damaging winds, reported Mark Brown, AgriLife Extension agent. The storms brought as much as 2 inches of rain, which helped crops, but winds as high as 84 mph damaged structures, toppled trees and overturned many center pivots.
In East Texas, the thunderstorms were more benign, bringing only rain and greening up grass and promoting hay growth, reported Chad Gulley, AgriLife Extension agent for Smith County, Tyler.
In much of West Texas, rains did little more than settle the dust, as Norman Fryar, AgriLife Extension agent in Pecos County, reported.
Many South Texas counties reported rain since June 4, but as George Gonzales, AgriLife Extension agent for Webb County in Laredo, reported, with highs in the 100- to 103-degree Fahrenheit range all week long, evaporation rates were very high.
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/.