Light at the end of the tunnel for farmers in the Panhandle - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Light at the end of the tunnel for farmers in the Panhandle

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AMARILLO, TX- Hundreds of thousands of dollars in crops died in the Panhandle last year because of limited rainfall. While it's a loss that's hard to swallow for farmers, the Texas Farm Bureau says there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

Video NewsChannel 10 captured last year shows the painful toll the drought has taken on crops like corn and wheat. Between 2011 and the first half of 2012, profits were almost non-existent. 

"Last year was a tough year for wheat and most of the crops Texas had," Danny Nusser with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office said. 

It's a year the agricultural industry hopes will never be repeated and with recent rainfall, things appear to be looking a bit more promising. 

For farmers trying to get back on their feet, the Texas Farm Bureau says now may be the time to start replanting through a process known as "dusting." 

"It's a term where farmers will put seed in dry soil, hoping for a little rain," Nusser said. 

He says it's a familiar task for farmers, but also says he's aware of the risks involved. 

"As a producer, you don't know when that next rainfall is coming so they're hoping to put the seed in the ground, receive rainfall and hopefully get some grazing for the fall," Nusser said. 

While it's hard to predict exactly how much rain is expected for the remainder of the year, the National Weather Service says much needed rain may come sooner than later. 

"We're starting to work our way into a much more favorable pattern for more precipitation as we head late into the fall and on into the winter," Meteorologist Justyn Jackson said. 

In the end, he adds the amount of rainfall we receive will all boil down to El Niño, which he says brings cooler temperatures and wetter conditions. 

"We've actually seen quite a bit of improvement in the rainfall category this year compared to last," Jackson said. 

If the rain stops, Nusser says the wheat seed is going to sit in the ground until it rains, making "dusting" a gamble with a relatively small risk. 

The Texas Farm Bureau recommends planting small grains for early winter grazing five to eight weeks before the first freeze so if you haven't done so already, the clock is ticking!