Rain causes flooding, crop losses in central Texas

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Farmers and ranchers began moving cattle to higher ground and watched crops get soaked as thunderstorms moved across Central Texas.

Robertson County was one of the hardest-hit, receiving more than 17 inches Thursday morning, according to the Bryan-College Station Eagle Web site. Brazos County had 12 inches fall in some areas. Road closings were reported throughout the area.

Marsha Kelly, who ranches in northeastern Burleson County, reported 10.5 inches fell in about nine hours Thursday.

"FM 2000 looks as though the water just pulled up the asphalt and laid it over," she said.

"The mailman couldn't even get through," she said. "A lot of the water tanks are overflowing."

Jack Jeter, a Navasota livestock producer, said one of the biggest problems in his area was the rising of the Navasota River.

"It is expected to overflow in the next few days, flooding the bottom lands where there are large numbers of cattle. Producers are going to have to draw them out or risk losing some," he said.

"Also, it's haying season, so hay producers may also have problems if they have hay on the ground. This amount of rain will definitely hurt it and degrade the quality."

Little water damage to homes has been reported, since few houses are built in the flood plains, Jeter said. Farm acreage will also be affected. Some farmers may have to replant crops.

Clayton Finch, Extension agent in Grimes County, reported an excess of 3 inches of rain but said there was more in parts of the county.

"The rain fell extremely hard and fast," he said. "It didn't have anywhere to go and that's causing running water everywhere."

Other areas of Texas received very little rain.

Cody Dennison, Extension agent in Waller County, said that area received about an inch of rain on Thursday. However, with the rains of recent weeks, he has received a lot of telephone calls about crawfish in landscapes. Folks in low-lying areas, especially in the southern edge of his county, are seeing their homes invaded by the tiny crustaceans.

He also said landscapes are suffering from rain-induced fungal growth.

Dennison also reported the rainfall is delaying the development of the pecan nut casebearer, postponing the time producers will have to treat for the pest.

Todd Baughman, agronomist in Vernon, said that area had received some rain and hail. The rain was definitely welcome, he said. "We don't ever wish away rain up here."

The hail was not welcome, though, with some of the farmers losing entire fields of wheat.

"As far as (the loss) being 100 percent across the district, no, it's not," he said.

He said farmers had finished planting peanuts and were planting cotton. No damage to either of those crops had been reported.

Joe Pena of Uvalde, Extension economist, said a lot of the rain in that area fell mostly in March and April.

"We have had a little bit in May but not as much," he said. "Everything is green and looks very good. Most of the crops are taking advantage of the moisture. There has been some damage, but it has been minimal."

Edith Chenault is a writer for Texas A&M University.

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