Morgan also hears a lot of talk about sticking with more wheat—or increasing grain sorghum acreage—on both the High Plains and Rolling Plains if prices remain strong or increase for those crop alternatives.
Nevertheless, Taylor County AgriLife Extension Agent Robert Pritz, Abilene, says that after mid-March, wheat was under great stress in his area. Although wheat is a very resilient crop, Pritz says it will need a lot of rain in both April and May to mature into a good harvest this spring.
But the Coastal Bend of Texas and Rio Grande Valley along the Mexican border have remained under extremely dry conditions, Morgan says.
Water is tight
Dr. Guy Fipps, Texas AgriLife Extension Service irrigation engineer, College Station, says water shortages not just for farmers but entire cities are shaping up this year in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
"In 2009, the area experienced the worst drought in decades, as did much of the state, but this year is shaping up to be much worse for area residents," Fipps says.
This year is different from 2009 conditions, he assures.
"In 2009, there was a drought, but there was plenty of water in the reservoir systems, so there was irrigation water," he says. "This year, there is almost no water in the reservoir systems."
More than 1 million people live in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Common row crops include the earliest production of cotton in Texas and the nation, along with corn, grain sorghum, and sugarcane. The "Valley" also is highly recognized for its commercial vegetable production, including onions, spinach, peppers and potatoes, along with citrus.
Fipps says irrigation water is extremely limited in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
"Most of the irrigation districts have informed the farmers that they will have one or two irrigations this year," Fipps says. "Three of the districts have informed their municipal water contracts that they will likely be out of water by April of May, and will not be able to supply municipal water. This is quite serious."
International politics also are involved, as through treaty, Mexico and the U.S. share the water of the Rio Grande.
"The U.S. side is putting pressure on Mexico to get them to release some of the water they owe the U.S. so it can be used to maintain municipal water supplies this year," Fipps notes. "So it should be very interesting to see how this unfolds in the next two or three months."