A&M Agrilife Extension officials weigh in on 2021 agriculture outlook

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AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — For our farmers here on the high plains, 2020 brought with it challenging times.

“When we look at our current drought forecast, it is definitely very concerning for many farmers,” said Dr. Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Agronomist.

Dr. Bell said the current outlook for 2021 could present issues for area farmers.

“We have a significant number of dry land acreage across the region and so if we do not have that pre-plant soil moisture in those dry land acres, we simply can not get crops established,” said Dr. Bell.

Which is a problem that all started last spring from some extreme weather conditions.

“We had very dry conditions across much of the panhandle at planting and especially at the central and southwest panhandle, we came into a season where we were very close to record-low precipitation. That affected the production all through the season. It was not just the precipitation but also heat throughout the season,” said Dr. Bell.

Dr. Bell said that after visiting with area ag producers, they came across another issue.

An issue that could continue into this year.

“This year was so much more challenging than recent droughts because they did not have the well capacity to keep up with that production demand. So of course in our region, farmers are irrigating from the Ogallala aquifer and as we see that aquifer continue to decline, just the extended pressure from environmental conditions can really magnify those crop losses,” said Dr. Bell

Dr. Bell said there was an extended period of below-40 degree temperatures last year that negatively affected the quality of the cotton crop.

Dr. Bell adds that this is because the development of the cotton fiber is driven by heat.

For a more detailed look at the drought monitor for the panhandle, click here.

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