Monday, July 27, 2009

Texas drought could be the worst ever

(The drought gripping the southern 1/3 to 1/2 of Texas is described as "extraordinary", the worst in 50 years or more. A slow-moving tropical storm or hurricane might help, but no rapid improvement is expected before sometime in 2010 at the earliest).

LUBBOCK, Texas — Drought in Texas has led to an estimated $3.6 billion in crop and livestock losses, and without ample rains, the year's final tally could top the state record set in 2006, Texas agriculture officials say.

Crops and rangeland are scorched from lack of rainfall and record triple-digit temperatures throughout parts of Texas — the nation's second-largest agriculture state behind California. Much of the central and southern parts of the state have been in the two most severe stages of drought for months.

Agriculture officials in the state, which leads the nation in cotton and cattle production, estimated Monday that total crop losses attributed to the drought that started in November have reached $2.6 billion. Livestock losses have reached an additional $974 million. And officials have not yet tallied how much ranchers will lose from having fewer cattle to breed or from selling calves earlier than usual because they don't have pasture on which their animals can graze.

It could be two years before a reduced beef supply and higher prices hit the grocery store, said Travis Miller, a drought specialist with the Texas AgriLife Extension. He noted that many cattle being sold at Texas sale barns will end up in states where grazing lands are better.

The complete USA Today article about this historic drought is here.

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