|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
Drought getting critical for cattlemen
LIVINGSTON — The lack of rainfall so for this year has already cost local cattle-raisers one cutting of hay, but AgriLife Extension Agent Mark Currie said it’s not too late to salvage pastures and hay crops if the rain starts soon. “We should be just about read to make a first cutting, and we’re not even close,” Currie said Tuesday. “We’ve already got a lot of pastures that are already grazed out.” “I try to stay optimistic. Every day is one day closer to our next rain,” Currie added. “It is scary. If we knew when the rain was coming, we could figure out a way to make it work.” The long range forecast for spring predicted this, Currie said. “They said when we get to June we’ll see near-normal rainfall, but sometimes that’s not all that great. But at least if we could get out from under this cap, we could come out of it,” he said. Currie said conditions are much worse in the Bryan- College Station area. Some beef producers there have waited too late to reduce the number of cattle grazing on pastures and there’s nothing left for them to eat. “Even if it rained now, they still would have to get rid of a low of cows,” Currie said. In the Polk County area, time is still in our favor, he adds. Some local producers are beginning to cut their numbers back and its better to do that sooner rather than later. “So far, the market has been good,” Currie said. Meanwhile, the availability of grass and water for cattle is dwindling. “We’ve got ponds that are starting to dry up. As long as I’ve been here I’ve never seen the water levels in stock ponds as low as they are right now,” Currie said. The consensus among Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel and farmers located where rain was received recently was that it came too late to save small-grain crops, and more rain will be needed soon for any substantial improvement in pasture and hay land. Most of southeast Texas received from a trace to nearly 1 inch of rain last week. It was Brazoria County’s first rain since January, and it measured from 0.4 to 0.9 inch for most of the county. Some East Texas counties received as much as 3 inches of rain while others remained dry. Tyler County reported nearly 4 inches of rain, which helped relieve dry conditions, but much more was needed. Burn bans remained in effect for most of the region. Producers continued to reduce the size of their herds. Producers in some areas fertilized pastures just before the rains. Hay fields and pastures made little progress. Feral hog activity remained a problem.