Moisture a mixed blessing

October 4, 2017

“Rain, rain go away…” Hard words to say in dry West Texas, but those words are on the minds of farmers in the area as they are preparing for harvest and in some instances, having harvest delayed by the rain.

Rainfall reports for last week’s rain event tallied from around an inch to all the way up to nearly four inches. And more rain is in the forecast for this week. In fact, as this is being written, there is an 60% chance that it will be raining by the time you read it.

While rain is ordinarily something for which we regularly pray, the fall of the year is not the best time for it.

Cotton is beginning to get ready to be defoliated for harvest. This moisture slows down that process. Peanuts are getting ready for digging and the moisture is helpful on some peanuts where the land was so dry. Replanted wheat benefitted from the moisture. The grape harvest is all but completed.  Black-eyed peas and pumpkins awaiting harvest appear to be the real victims.

Randy Simpson of T&S Produce stated, “The pumpkins still in the field can suffer due to the fact that the stem will soak up the water. If the sun does not come out and shine and dry it out, the stem will deteriorate and it cannot be shipped. For a pumpkin to last, the stem has to be kept dry.”

Mason Becker reported 1.75 – 2 inches of rain. “It will help finish out the peanuts but it surely won’t be good for regrowth on cotton.” Mason, who also grows black-eyed peas, was planning to harvest his peas starting this past Monday. But the weather hampered that harvest and unfortunately, might have gone a little further. “I am pretty sure my peas are ruined,” stated Mason. With margins as tight as they are in farming right now, that loss is not helpful.

Brent Hogue reported about 2.5 inches most places and stated, “We were really dry and it fell slowly and soaked in so I don’t think it hurt us too much. We do need it to clear off and warm up now.”

And that is the other thing. The wet weather combined with the cool temperatures were not ideal, especially on some of the later planted cotton. Due to spring weather issues, there was plenty of cotton planted much later than normal this year and that is the stuff that still needs some time to mature. This cool damp weather doesn’t do much for pushing maturity in those young bolls.

Eric Caswell reported 1.6 – 2 inches on most of his. “It didn’t rain hard, so the open bolls didn’t get strung out by the rain. But this rain will start some regrowth and that will make it harder to defoliate. Some of those who had sprayed defoliants prior to the rain, may have to spray again.”

Glen Martin was grateful for the rain on some wheat planted on failed dryland acres. “We have a beautiful stand of wheat on some dryland we plowed up. I don’t think there was much damage from this rainfall but time will tell.”

Rhett Green, who farms from here to the state line stated, “I have had around 2.5 inches around Meadow and close to 4 inches at state line. I have seen a lot of open cotton that had already been sprayed and haven’t really seen anything strung out yet. I think it fell just slow enough. But we really need some sunshine right now.”

Rhett mentioned his peanuts. “The rain has been good for the peanuts. We just really didn’t need the cool temperatures just yet.”

Clint Neill reported 2.75 inches at his barn on Foster Road. He stated, “It is always a blessing to get a rain but it was surely not ideal for our peas and cotton. It will help our winter wheat get started though. Clint, who also grows black-eyed peas, didn’t think his were lost yet but is afraid another wet spell could do them in.

Clint Ellis reported about 3 inches. “If we can get some open weather, I don’t think it will hurt us. It fell slow over a good period of time and never fell hard. We would like to get out in the cotton with some harvest aids but we need some drying out to happen.”

Like most, Clint feels the moisture will be helpful with the winter wheat, but warmer and drier is really what we need right now.

Currently, the forecast is calling for highs in the mid to high 70s for the next few days with 20 – 60% chances of rain over the same period.

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