Posted: Sep 1, 2013 11:44 AM
Updated: Sep 1, 2013 11:44 AM
HARLINGEN, Texas (AP) The worst growing season in the drought-plagued Rio Grande Valley since 2006 is ending, marking yet another tough harvest for South Texas farmers, some of whom lost up to 88 percent of their crop last year.
The Natural Resources Defense Council ranked Texas No. 10 in the country for drought losses, the McAllen Monitor reported (http://bit.ly/131ahOR ) Sunday.
"It's really bad," said Luis Ribera, an agricultural economist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Weslaco.
In 2012, farmers across Texas posted drought-induced crop losses of nearly $1 billion with the Federal Crop Insurance Program, the NRDC reported. Farmers in Willacy County who work non-irrigated land lost 88 percent of their crop, a loss valued at about $1 million, an NRDC report said. Valley farmers who planted cotton lost about half of their 90,000 acres, while those who planted grain sorghum lost 60 percent of the 410,000 acres planted.
Most of the corn was spared, Ribera said, because about 70 percent is irrigated.
With such extreme droughts becoming commonplace, the NRDC, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is encouraging farmers to find ways to use less water.
"We need to empower farmers to invest in low-risk, water-smart practices that are proven to reduce crop losses," said Claire O'Connor, NRDC agricultural water policy analyst.
Farmers can use cover crops, conservation tillage and improved irrigation schedules to reduce their water usage and needs, Ribera said.
Information from: The Monitor, http://www.themonitor.com