Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain

“Rain, rain go away; come again some other day.”

I thought of that piece of childhood rhyme Saturday afternoon while flopped on my sofa watching a basketball game and reading. I can multi-task.

I also looked through the den windows occasionally to admire the downpour falling outside. It rained all day. It started sometime in the night Friday and alternated from drizzle to gully washer. It was wonderful.

I had no desire for this rain to go away. We’ve been blessed in this part of Texas since last fall, receiving frequent rain events and restoring much of the moisture we lost to the long, hot summer of 2011. The Northeast and Central Texas areas are damp. Wheat crops look promising; pastures are recovering. Farmers are optimistic about having ample moisture to get spring crops planted.

Farmers across the state, in fact, are more hopeful than they have been since this time last year. At recent meetings in Waco, San Antonio and Fort Worth, farmers from across the state reported receiving “some” rain in the last month to six weeks. In many areas, West Texas, for instance, rainfall has not been adequate to restore soil profiles depleted in last year’s historic drought. But most have had a bit of moisture—rain or snow. Consequently, most feel a bit hopeful that rainfall patterns may be returning to something closer to normal.

A lot of farmers, even those in the High Plains and the Rio Grande Valley, say they may have already received more precipitation than they got all of last year. It’s not enough, yet, but it’s enough to offer a bit of optimism following a devastating growing season.

And some say they are more hopeful because those of us to the east have been getting rain. The thinking goes that moisture in Texas often begins over this way and then sort of backs up to the West as the year goes along. They figure/hope that by planting time around Lubbock or Amarillo, the climate situation will provide enough moisture to allow timely cotton, corn and grain sorghum planting. Folks in the High Plains are also hoping for a few rainfall events through what remains of winter to bring the wheat crop out of its moisture-stressed lethargy and produce a decent yield. They’d also appreciate some relief for pastures depleted by last summer’s heat and drought.

I’ve also heard reports recently that La Nina, the grumpy old bitty in the Pacific that creates the environment for Southwest droughts, may be moving back toward neutral and could be gone by mid to late spring. Other predictions push that blessed event further out, August or September. I’m pulling for spring.

I’ve also talked to several farmers who say they are not greedy about rainfall. They don’t need a lot of rain to make a cotton crop, for instance. They just need it at the right time. Last summer they simply didn’t get any at all.

But several have told me that an inch or two along the way during peak demand will be adequate to make a good yield. Timing, they say, is everything. That late spring departure date for La Nina would fit that timetable—a good planting rain, an inch or two to help get plants emerged and growing well and then two or three rains during fruit set would set up the 2012 cotton crop for a good yield.

“Rain, rain go away, little Johnny wants to play.”

Well John, be content to play inside for awhile. When I was a kid we spent rainy days playing checkers or reading. I guess video games will have to do while you learn to appreciate the peaceful, promising sound of rain on the roof.


TAGS: Management
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