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Farmers in Texas need tenacity to finish the drought-riddled season

Sadie Schweers and her husband Jacob, a sixth-generation farmer, have a cow/calf and crop operation in southwest Texas. This summer has been the longest, hottest season they’ve experienced since taking over the farm five years ago.

“We’ve experienced little-to-no-rain and some of the hottest temperatures. It’s been the perfect ‘non-existent’ storm creating the toughest drought in even my father-in-law’s, the previous generation's, lifetime,” Schweers says.

The Schweers have a hay business and grow corn, wheat, milo, sesame, cotton, and oats, in addition to the cow/calf business.

The only way for the Schweers to sustain the farm through the season and produce any crop at all was to rely on their irrigated fields, but that meant pumping more water, increasing their diesel use, and spending more time and labor to keep irrigation going.

The extreme temperatures and drought have also accelerated the Schweers’ timeline this year.

“The extreme heat has affected our timeline, so we’re prepping for fall to be ready to plant in the spring, but it’s a double-edged sword,” Schweers explains. “We are preparing early and we’ll be able to get the ground where we want it, but it’s because we took a major hit this year.”

As for what’s happening on the farm this week, Schweers says, “We’re planting winter oats and praying for precipitation.”

They’ve just finished cotton harvest, getting the last hay cuts in of the season, and preparing the ground to be ready for any amount of precipitation that can set them up for success next year.

“This season has really taught us tenacity and what it means to stick with it and be grateful for the good years. We’re hopeful for a new year and a new growing season,” says Schweers.

October 11 Texas Drought

State Relief and Data

Nine counties in the state have drought disaster designations, meaning they’ve suffered from a drought intensity value of D2 Drought-Severe, D3 Drought-Extreme, or D4 Drought-Exceptional for eight or more consecutive weeks.

The Farm Service Agency is accepting applications for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program to provide financial assistance to livestock producers for grazing losses due to drought or wildfire.

In the past week, rainfall amounts ranged from 2 to 4 inches, locally more, across western Texas.

October Texas Precipitation 2022

According to the USDA Crop Progress Report this week, winter wheat is planted at 58% complete, ahead of the five-year average of 54%.

The cotton harvest is ahead of the five-year average at 35%, compared to 28%.

Corn harvest is at 85% complete, ahead of the five-year average of 79%.

Good/excellent pasture and range conditions are only 14%. The conditions are very poor on 29% of pasture and range, 27% poor, and 30% fair.

Topsoil moisture condition is at 48% very short, 28% short, and 23% adequate. Subsoil moisture condition is at 47% very short, 37% short, and 15% adequate.

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