After mid-December, much of Texas remained in the grips of extremely dry conditions. Perhaps not as bad as the historic 2011 record drought, but when you put an overall dry 2012 year with it for a two-year picture, it represents a long stretch of misery for producers.
While some general and even heavy rainfall came over most of Texas on Sept. 28, the water spout just completely shut off for October, November, and December approaching the Christmas holiday season and the end of the year. At least 50% of Texas still was experiencing severe drought, with 23% in extreme drought, and 8% still in exceptional drought during the Thanksgiving-Christmas period.
Fall 2012 was extremely dry, and with temperatures frequently 15 to 20 degrees above normal. Folks parading around in their Bermuda shorts made it hard to get in the "Christmas spirit" and sing about sleigh bells.
"We had one of the driest Octobers on record in Texas, and essentially no rain at all in November," says Dr. Travis Miller, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program leader and Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences associate department head, College Station.
Any winter wheat growth has been extremely limited. The 6 million acres of wheat planted from September to mid-November this fall in Texas was offering little forage for livestock. That's tough on cattle raisers. Typically, 55% to 60% of the crop is grazed in the state for cattle during the winter months. But the wheat is yielding only scare grazing going into this winter.
That means the rebuilding of herds in Texas just isn't happening—in fact, it maybe the other way around—it is possible downsizing of cattle operations could occur again.