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Rains help drought, delay harvest across state

By Justin Walker

Recent rains and flooding have flipped the script on drought conditions, leaving Texas facing a wet outlook for the remainder of the year.

As of Oct. 31, only 3.85 percent of the state showed some level of drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor.

A cluster of counties in the Panhandle have conditions ranging from abnormally dry to moderate drought, the two lowest levels of intensity, while the western tip of Texas has stretches of severe drought, one step up from moderate.

Conditions are vastly different from what Texans experienced in July when more than 78 percent of the state was abnormally dry or worse, including nearly 8.5 percent in extreme drought.

Rainfall totals are closer to the yearly average of 45.8 inches following the recent storms.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center in Overton has received 41.45 inches of rain this year, with 15.48 inches falling in September and October.

While rain has been welcomed, the excessive amounts in such a short timeframe have caused issues for farmers and ranchers in the Lone Star State.

West Texas sorghum harvest has experienced delays and concerns are starting to rise, Landon Gheer, field agronomist for Pioneer, said.

“Harvest is very slow at this time,” Gheer said in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) Radio Network. “We’ve had torrential rains across the area. It’s been slow for all crops, especially the sorghum acres that are left.”

With the delayed harvest, concerns continue to grow over stock strength and diseases for the crop.

Wet weather is expected to continue throughout November, according to Brad Rippey, U.S. Department of Agriculture meteorologist.

Much of the central portion of the United States will see more precipitation through mid-November, he said.

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