Reflections From 2009

2009 was a year full of irony for Brazos Valley agricultural producers. The first 8 months of the year no one could beg a rain, and then when the rains finally did come, harvest was delayed for weeks because and the fields were so wet they couldn’t support the necessary picking equipment. Forage was short for ranchers and fall rains left many hay fields to wet for a fall cutting. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.

“Butler Bayou dried up before Old River did,” said rancher John Malazzo. “I have never seen these two drainage ways to where we could stand in it and talk like we are. To me it’s unprecedented”

“What the drought has done so far has robbed us of the ability to stockpile any grass for the winter,” said rancher Bobby Kurten. “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.”

"But, you know it’s cracks out there two inches wide or more and you can see at least two feet down," said Rancher Barney Homeyer. "This ear should be about 8 to 10 inches long, you know about that long, and this is what we have, and the reason it doesn’t have any kernels is because of the heat and the stress. It didn’t pollinate right."

"This cotton right now is about knee high," said farmer Walter Vajdak. "Some of it’s a little over knee high, but it should be waist high or shoulder high and the middle should be full, and you have a hard time even walking down through it because by this time of year it should be just laid over with bolls."

The cruel irony in 2009 was that abundant rains came when cotton that had been irrigated all year needed to be picked.

"That fiber gets wet," said farmer Jay Wilder, "and that seed inside that fiber gets wet, and it's just constantly has been, wet, wet, wet, a now we've had some of those seeds starting to sprout, which ruins the seed quality totally, and that hits you right in the back pocket. Our fiber quality has gone down."

When people look back at the annual rainfall for this year, the story of the new drought of record, the one people use as the standard by which we measure droughts, will be hidden in the 2009’s rainfall total. I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.

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