Alex threatens sorghum yields

Although Hurricane Alex made landfall 80 to 100 miles south of the Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley, crop observers expect significant damage from the storm, especially to grain sorghum fields that were ready for harvest.

“Our grain sorghum harvest just began in earnest this week,” said Webb Wallace, executive director, Cotton and Grain Producers of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. “All but the latest planted grain has been sprayed with Roundup, but probably only 10 percent had been harvested before rain began Tuesday. Our main concerns are stalks blowing down and grain sprouting in the head if we have several days of continuously wet weather.”

Wallace said the storm came at a bad time for Valley grain farmers. “It's a real disappointment as we had one of the best grain sorghum crops ever, thanks to timely rains.”

Cotton is less vulnerable. “The cotton crop has only a very few open bolls in the earliest fields,” Wallace said. “We could get some boll rot on bolls that are about to crack, but for the most part, cotton is not very vulnerable at this time.”

He said the region experienced bands of heavy rain on Wednesday and only slightly gusty winds (25 to 30 miles per hour). “Doppler totals showed orange to red (4 to 6 inches) over most of the area. Before I went to bed Wednesday night, the Doppler totals for the LRGV showed large areas with 7 to 9 inches of rain. We had one more band of heavy rain come through in the night.”

Wallace said the Doppler system reset at midnight so he could not ascertain total rainfall from the storm.

“I'll be out later today (Thursday) to survey for damage, but it will be too soon to see if grain is going to sprout. Unfortunately, they are calling for continued rain today, although the heavy rain seems to be over for now.”

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