Drought Impact on Beef Production

While farmers near the opening of the planting window for corn with no relief from the drought in sight, area beef producers are faced with their own set of problems. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.

"What the drought has done so far has robbed us of the ability to stockpile any grass for the winter."

Bobby Kurten is a Brazos County rancher.

"In most cases we’re geared to feed supplementally for about three or four winter months. We are not geared up and the market will not sustain full feeding all through the year."

The drought has taken its toll on pastures that help with winter feeding.

"In a normal year this field would be green. It would have rye grass three or four inches tall in it. This year it doesn’t. We got a little bit of rye grass sprouted early in the year, but the dry weather has pretty much killed all of that. I’m not expecting real good things next year if we don’t get a stand this year to reseed, we will have problems next year."

The impact of such a lengthy weather event can be lingering. Coastal Bermuda is a common summer pasture grass in our area.

"Another thing we see sometimes after a drought is root structure of the coastal has been damaged in the drought. The rhizomes have been damaged to where once it does start raining, our production doesn’t match what it did in years past."

And that will affect the amount of hay produced this year, even with favorable weather.

"We had some hay left over last winter. We won’t have any hay left over this winter. We have used up the old hay and what little hay we produced in 2008. We need some rain, not only to grow the grass, but to grow some hay too."

No excess hay production in 2009 can become a problem in 2010.

"We are dependent on the grass. We are grass farmers, we run the grass through the cow and produce beef from the grass through the cow."

I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.

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