AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — In the Texas Panhandle, there has been between two and 18 inches of rainfall in the last several weeks. While most farmers are happy to receive moisture, too much rain at once can be problematic for some crops.

Dr. Jourdan Bell, an agronomist at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension, said many producers have already planted cotton for the summer, but extended cool and wet periods can hurt crops at the seedling stage.

“As we look at the cotton that has been planted, we’re starting to see fields that are waterlogged and cotton that is very susceptible to diseases,” Bell said. “And if it has not died, there’s the potential that we could lose many cotton acres now, because of too much water, rather than a lack of water like we were seeing because of the drought conditions.”

She said even though there has been significant rainfall in recent weeks, it is not enough to carry crops through the summer.

“We’re looking at rainfall that has rebuilt soil moisture profiles, but much of the rain that we have received has now started to run off so that’s not going to benefit crops going into the summer,” Bell continued. “And because we are in a region where we are hot, we are windy during peak water demand periods of the summer, farmers are very dependent on irrigation to supplement the crop during periods when we don’t receive rainfall.”

As groundwater depletes, Bell said some farmers might not be able to meet additional crop water demands with irrigation.

“What we do see is that farmers just have a reduced yield potential and so as we look at a reduction in yield potential, farmers start to reevaluate their cropping decisions,” Bell added. “I still do believe many farmers will continue to reevaluate those corn acres, what they will probably do is reduce the acreage on which they’re planting corn so they can concentrate more water and still consider other crops.”

According to Chief Meteorologist John Harris, more precipitation is likely on the way.

“In fact, we have a surplus right now in Amarillo and I think that will only continue because we are making our way toward the temporary climate [change], known as El Niño and El Niño usually means lots of rain headed our way and cooler than normal temperatures,” Harris said, noting that weather pattern will stick around through the winter months.

He continued, “The amount of rain that we’ve seen up to this point in time, plus the amount of rain that we expect throughout the summer months, we should be doing very well as far as totals as we travel throughout the remainder of 2023.”

Bell said much of the moisture the High Plains region has seen through May came too late to save wheat crops that were struggling as a result of extended drought conditions. However, she said the rain has benefited wheat that had a good stand or was under irrigation and was supplementing those crops.

“Overall, we’ve really established the yield potential for our wheat crop but we’re still able to see some benefits in test weights and grain quality moving into June from these recent rainfall events,” Bell said. “…You know, so much of our wheat crop goes to forage, and this really will help boost some of those yields in those forage situations.”

According to Bell, the typical wheat harvest window is between mid-to-late June into early July, depending on location and field conditions in the Panhandle region. However, the rain could also impact the harvest.

“Because of these very wet cool conditions, it is very likely that we might see that extended a little later, just because fields are going to be much slower to dry down and so that can cause some problems,” she added. “Hopefully, we don’t see wet conditions moving into June that cause harvest issues.”

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