Travis Mires says the 6 to 10 inches of rain that fell on the family farm in Lynn County early this week “came a little fast, but we’ll take it. It was a big one.”
And it was just what West Texas cotton and grain farmers needed to replenish soil profiles that have been depleted for more than four years.
Some producers may be reworking fields, patching spots that washed out in the heavy downpour, or cleaning up following flooding, but the moisture that soaked deeply into the soil provides a reserve they’ve been missing for the last few crop years. They’ll still need some timely rains throughout the summer to make a crop, but it’s the best start they’ve had in a long while.
Rainfall was widespread, according to reports across Texas and Oklahoma areas that have been hardest hit by prolonged drought.
“There is no doubt that we now have the best moisture situation in years for early May,” says Randy Boman, research leader and cotton Extension program leader at the Southwest Oklahoma Research and Extension Center in Altus.
“However, we still have a long way to go to get out of this drought,” he says. “The April 28 Drought Monitor still shows the Southwest corner in bad shape but getting better.”
The area around Altus has remained one of the driest in the Southwest for going on five years. “I think we are up to nearly 6 inches at Altus in the last 30 days based on the Mesonet,” Boman said Wednesday, May 6. “The last 14 days shows about 3 plus inches at Altus.”
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Lake capacity, recently at record low elevations, remains a concern, but reservoirs are beginning to fill. “Lugert Lake (a reservoir near Altus that provides irrigation water to farmers in the district) has gone from about 9 percent about 3 weeks ago to over 24 percent of capacity now. The high rainfall up around Erick has fed some runoff into the North Fork watershed.”
Tom Steed is filling slower. “Lake Tom Steed’s situation is still lagging a bit, but it has come up some,” he said. “I think it was at about 16 percent about three weeks ago. It is really good to see that it can rain in April and May.”
Rain has been widespread across the Texas plains. Texas AgriLife Extension media specialist Kay Ledbetter polled Extension agents and specialist and sent these numbers:
The area around Wellington has gotten roughly 1.5 inches. “Some areas of the county got a little more and some a little less,” says Extension agent Katy White. Cristen Brooks reports from 3.5 to 4 inches in Floyd County. Crosby County reports from 4 to 7 inches with rain still falling in some areas. White River Lake was up 2.5 feet.
Integrated pest management specialist Kerry Siders says Levelland (Hockley County) “received 3.24 inches. “For the month of May we’ve received 3.42 inches and total for year is 8.3 inches. The rest of the county this week ranged from 2.5 to 4.5 inches and have similar totals for the year.”
Tammy Benton reports 2.75 inches in the Hansford, Spearman and Morse/Gruver areas “but some areas got 3 inches.”
Austin Voyles, Oldham County, reports 1.25 inches in the last three days, 5.5 to 6 inches in the last 2 weeks.
Jourdan Bell, Texas AgriLife Extension agronomist at Amarillo, reports 1.54 inches of rain at Bushland. “At Amarillo there was about 1.1 inches discussed on the news. Pampa received the greatest rainfall at 3.02 inches. The eastern Panhandle pickled up more rain. I hear that south of Lubbock received 9 to 10 inches.”
Totals vary across region
Jay Kingston at Jayton reports 5 inches.
Ryan Martin, Motley County agent, says the “last little rainy spell dropped 2.2 inches. Before that we had 4.4 inches for a total of 6.6 inches since March.”
Cody Hill says Borden County rainfall ranged from 10 to 12 inches.
“I have producer reports from near Tulia at just over 1.5 inches to just over 3 inches near Kress and up to 4 inches near Abernathy,” says Blayne Reed.
“I had producer reports from 2.5 to 5 plus inches for Lubbock County,” says Extension agent Mark Brown.
Vikram Baligra says Mesonet reports 4.57 inches for the month for the City of Lubbock with reports of 6 or more inches across the county. Curtis Preston reports 1.8 inches in Bailey County.
Other totals include:
- Greg Jones, Garza County, 2.5 to 7 inches; 5.5 inches in Post;
- Deaf Smith, from 1.15 to 3 inches across the county with a little hail, according to Rick Auckerman;
- Tanner Young, in Briscoe, reports average rainfall of 2.86 inches for the first five days of May;
- Sunnyside, 2 inches; Dimmit 1.5 inches, according to Nancy Anderson;
- John Villalba reports 3 Inches on average across Swisher County;
- Graham Henely says Lamb County received from 1.5 to 4 inches; and
- Michael Wilkes, Miami, says 1.49 inches of rain fell over the last seven days.
- As of today, May 7, 2015 Montague County has collected 10-12” of rain in the last two weeks says county agent Justin Hansard
- Official rainfall for Dumas is 4.83 inches so far for 2015, according to Marcel Fischbacher
- Perryton has received 2.17 inches since Sunday and between 5 and 6 inches before that since April 17. Says Scott Strawn, Ochiltree County
- “I am getting reports from 4 to 7inches across Terry County,” says county agent Zach Bradshaw
- “As of this morning Archer County has had anywhere between 4 to 10 inches this week, says county agent Justin B Gilliam
Rainfall across the Southwest region is variable, ranging from just over an inch to a foot or more. Some farmers label it “a million dollar rain,” making prospects for getting cotton and grain sorghum planted and off to a good start more certain that at any time since 2010.
Reports of El Niño’s return seem to be substantiated.