Recent rainfall improves drought conditions, impacts agriculture

(Images courtesy of the Texas Water Development Board)

(Images courtesy of the Texas Water Development Board)

Staff Writer

According to the Texas Water Development Board, recent rainfall experienced throughout the state improved drought conditions in the lower Rio Grande Valley, including San Benito.

The statement released by the board adds, “The prognosis for more rain over the next week is promising, so perhaps we can reverse downward reservoir trends sooner rather than later.”

A graphic released by the Water Development Board says that 58 percent of the state is currently considered to be in moderate to exceptional drought.

That’s an improvement over 61 percent a year ago, and 69 percent three months ago. This time last year, that number was at 87 percent.

In recent weeks, San Benito saw rain from Tropical Storm Dolly, which made landfall just south of the Texas-Mexico border in early September.

Over the weekend, the Valley received several inches of rain.

According to the National Weather Service in Brownsville, Harlingen received 3.89 inches of rain between Sept. 12 and 14.

It also saw continued rainfall throughout Monday.

Brad Cowan of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office in Hidalgo County said, “We haven’t been in a drought for the past year, but we’re in an extended drought period … when you look back over several years,” said Cowan.

“Starting at about this time last year, we’ve had quite a bit of moisture over the last 12 months,” added Cowan.

Cowan did say that “it got kind of dry this summer,” but the Valley did receive a lot of rain over the fall, winter and spring months.

“It’s [recent rains] been a really good impact to agriculture; the timing, for the most part, was good,” said Cowan. “There’s still a little bit of cotton that needs to be harvested.”

According to Cowan, the timing of the rain was important because many of the cotton growers had already harvested their crops before the rain came, “when it rains for a significant amount of time, stays wet for weeks on end, we get all kinds of quality losses….”

“When the white fluff is in the plants, they [cotton growers] generally speaking don’t like any rain, but … everybody else is glad we got a lot of rain,” said Cowan.

“Sugarcane growers, they’re really going to benefit from this rain,” explained Cowan, adding, “they don’t have to irrigate for a while, and you get that high-quality water – it doesn’t have any salt in it …” he said.

It’s also good for cattle ranchers, according to Cowan.

“One of those million-dollar rains – actually, it will be a whole lot more than that. The impact to agriculture will be very significant,” he added.


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