Lingering drought is stressing local crops, hitting hardest cotton, corn, wheat and oats

·3 min read
With planting nearly over for most area crops, early projections are showing less than desirable conditions thanks in part to lingering drought.
With planting nearly over for most area crops, early projections are showing less than desirable conditions thanks in part to lingering drought.

While planting season isn't quite yet over for most regional crops, data already shows harvest seasons for most of them are off to a rough start.

From the looks of it, cotton, corn, oats, and wheat will take the hardest hit this year, primarily due to extremely warm temperatures and dry weather conditions.

Although the Panhandle-South Plains region has seen recent rainfall, the extremely dry start to the year still has much of the region well below the year-to-date average, according to data from the National Weather Service.

As of Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor map for Texas shows most of the region to be under moderate or worse drought conditions.

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Cotton

While the majority of the state's crop is in ground, only about 54% of it is in “fair” or better condition — down from 60% on June 19 — according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service department.

During the same period in 2021, about 93% of the state’s crop was in “fair” or better condition, with 7% labeled “excellent.” Currently, none of the state's crop is in excellent condition.

Crop conditions – which represent yield potential – can improve with the support of rainfall, but long-term forecasts show it is unlikely, Shawn Wade, the director of policy and analysis for Plains Cotton Growers, told the A-J for a story earlier this week.

“The situation is pretty complicated. Last year, we were blessed with pretty timely rainfall,” Wade said. “This year’s situation, going into 2022, was significantly drier, and we really haven’t received the rainfall that we would’ve needed to get cotton off to a good start. There are really only a couple areas that aren’t in pretty significant drought conditions."

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map for Texas was released Thursday.
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map for Texas was released Thursday.

Corn

Currently, only about 62% of the state's corn crop is in "fair" or better condition. In the same period last year, NASS data reports that 96% of the crop was in "fair" or better condition — including 50% "good" and 26% "excellent."

MORE: Planting season is almost over for cotton farmers, and crop conditions aren’t great

Wheat

Less than one-fifth, about 17%, of the state's current wheat crop is in "fair" or better condition, and about 80% has been harvested. In 2021, about 68% of the state's crop was in "fair" or better condition, and about 73% was harvested.

Other regional crops

Texas' oat, sorghum and peanut crops are also experiencing less success than last year and their percentage currently in "fair" or better condition are 22%, 58% and 79%, respectively.

This time last year, about 60% of the oat crop was in "fair" or better condition, while both peanuts and sorghum reported about 98%.

The state's soybean crop is the only regional crop that fairs well, this year, compared to last year. Currently, about 90% of the crop is in "fair" or better condition.

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Drought conditions are stressing Panhandle-South Plains crops