Farmers make adjustments for growing season due to drought - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Farmers make adjustments for growing season due to drought

Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA

The dry winter has left farmers facing tough decisions as they enter growing season.

Across the Panhandle, they are experiencing topsoil six to eight inches deep that is dry as a bone.

"At this point, farmers are planning for summer crop production, and they are considering what options do they have to get that crop established," said regional agronomist Jourdan Bell.

A lack of wet weather in the winter can alter the approach a farmer takes when it comes to planting crops for harvest.

According to current forecast models, it looks like it will continue to be dry.

"You know, I've been at this for 35 years and I've never seen this," said Chief Meteorologist "Doppler" Dave Oliver. "I've never seen a dry season like this. We've never had a winter here that we went without having the ground covered in snow."

During dry spells, producers turn to methods like pre-irrigation when planning their growing season.

"When we look at the efficiency of a pre-irrigation, that is going to vary drastically based on crop residue," said Bell. "Is there any cover on that ground, was there potentially a cover crop that might minimize some of those evaporative loses."

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Due to this year's drought, farmers are relying heavily on soil moisture sensors. The moisture level allows them to manage irrigation systems more efficiently.

"There is the cost to pump, [and] to apply that water," said Bell. "With lower commodity prices, any production cost really does break into that potential very small profit margin."

Despite it being March, late rains are possible in April and May.

"One of the big offenders has been La Niña, which is still in La Niña phase," said Doppler Dave. "We're seeing indications that we're coming out of that, and heading to more of a neutral phase, that will help. But that's a process that takes some weeks and then months."

Bell says if a late rain does come, a farmer's plans could change.

"If we do receive rain as we approach April and May, more than likely many producers may not need to pre-irrigate," said Bell."If we do receive sufficient rain, it's all about the quantity."

Another problem farmers are facing is weeds.

While little unwanted growths like this are always a problem during growing season, this year they're sucking any little moisture out of the ground.

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