By Jessica Domel
Multimedia Reporter

Excessive heat, high winds and several months without significant rainfall are straining crops and rangeland across the Concho Valley.

Almost all of the corn in Tom Green County is harvested, but yields were lower than normal. The same may be true for cotton.

“Cotton is real spotty. It’s been struggling since we planted,” Joshua Blanek, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Tom Green County, said in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) Radio Network. “We have some fields that look decent, but a lot of them are skippy and have poor stands.”

The cotton is short and most of it is blooming out the top right now.

“It’s pretty much finishing up,” Blanek said. “I guess the best way to put it is it’s really struggling.”

Most of the cotton in Tom Green County is grown without irrigation, but even the irrigated fields are struggling right now.

“They need supplemental water. It’s behind,” Blanek said. “The dry land, which is probably 70 percent of our cotton acres, is really hurting.”

Fortunately, the area hasn’t seen the same ear or army worm pressure other parts of the state are experiencing.

Grain sorghum has already been harvested in Tom Green County. Fields that were planted early were able to take advantage of May rainfall.

“It was fair considering the year, about 2,500 pounds, but there’s been some other dryland sorghum taken out that yields are real low,” Blanek said. “Some of it’s not even going to be harvestable, because it just never produced a head.”

Surface water in Tom Green County is pretty much depleted or nonexistent as far as tanks and creeks go due to the drought.

“Everybody’s relying on ground water to water those livestock,” Blanek said. “I wouldn’t say anybody’s liquidating yet, but they’ve really been culling those older ewes and older cows and taking them to the sale barn. They’re trying to get numbers down to save the grass that they do have.”

Ranchers in the area are having to supplement their livestock much earlier than they normally would.

“Those added costs are weighing heavily on their mind. Hay is going to be in short supply in this area like it is around the state. Everybody’s just planning ahead,” Blanek said. “Hopefully we’ll get a rain coming up, and we can grow some grass here at the end of the season.”

Farmers and ranchers won’t be the only ones feeling the pinch if timely rains aren’t received. Agriculture is an integral part of Tom Green County and the Concho Valley.

“When times get like this, and it’s dry, we’re not producing a crop, and we’re having to sell livestock. That affects everybody, because then there are more people not able to come into town, go out to eat or go shopping. It affects everybody,” Blanek said.

The northern section of Tom Green County is currently under moderate drought. The rest is suffering from severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Fifty-nine percent of Texas is affected by drought. More than eight percent of the state is in extreme drought.