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Spring rains not enough for current drought conditions


By Justin Walker

Spring rains helped dry conditions in parts of the state, but more rain is needed for crops to continue to grow.

Dr. Curtis Adams, AgriLife Research crop physiologist in Vernon, said rains during the spring helped growers through planting despite a very dry winter, but seed mortality has been high due to fast-drying soils.

“We went more than 100 days without rain this winter,” Adams said in an interview with AgriLife Today. “The recent rains helped turn things around, but they didn’t make up for the extreme water deficit.”

Recent temperatures have been above average, he said. That causes evapotranspiration rates to increase faster than normal. The hot, dry and windy conditions have resulted in evapotranspiration rates as high as half-an-inch of water loss per day.

“If you’ve received an inch of rain, when conditions are like they are, half of that could be lost in a day,” Adams said.

State Climatologist Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon said these moisture losses help create warmer conditions.

“The drier the ground is, the hotter it gets,” he said. “A lot of the state doesn’t have excess soil moisture.”

Last month was the second warmest May on record in Texas, he said. The biggest temperature change from April to May also occurred last month, as cooler than normal temperatures in April were replaced by above-normal temperatures.

Nielsen-Gammon doesn’t expect much relief this month either.

“It looks relatively dry with some chances of rain, but below normal for most of the state and temperatures that are pretty solidly in the above-normal range,” he said.

June is historically a wet month, but Nielsen-Gammon said the state could be looking at 2011-like drought conditions if rain doesn’t arrive soon.

“Check with me in a month,” he said “It’s hard to improve drought conditions in July and early August, so this month could be critical.”

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