Rain soothes growing pains, ag officials say moisture came at just the right time for thirsty area crops.

Parmer County Extension Service agent Monti Vandiver said the rain the area received in the past week has put the cotton growth back on schedule.(CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Recent rain has come at a perfect time to help farmers in the region catch up on moisture, but it’s still not enough, according to agriculture officials.

The rain of late June and early July has helped to get crops right on target, according to Parmer County Extension Agent Monti Vandiver.
“(For) corn it is in the nick of time because corn is reaching its peak water use,” Vandiver said.

“I can’t explain how important this precipitation we’ve gotten over the last couple weeks has been, its just huge,” he said. “Irrigation water is great but it’s not as good as rain water.”

This current stage of growth is critical for corn, agricultural experts agree. When it goes through it’s most dramatic growth phase, it’s need for water high and won’t make it without the extra moisture. Having rain during that time is a relief for farmers, who in its absence, have to irrigation more to keep the plants at the required level.

Irrigation may save the crops, but it’s expensive and utilizes resources, Bailey County Extension Agent Curtis Preston said.

“Farmers would love to have 3 to 4 inches a month from May to September. The ideal is an inch a week — the more you can have the better,” he said.

Roosevelt County District Conservationist Joe Whitehead explained the moisture levels must go deep into the soil, which is why irrigation lines can often be seen watering empty fields.

“This winter was so dry the soil profile is just dry — you just never get caught up and you’ve still gotta keep watering,” Whitehead said.

While the recent rain may have given a boost to farmers, the bonus water is to be short-lived.

The rain may be ending this week and the future prognosis is not good, according to meteorologists. Drought conditions are likely to persist throughout the rest of the summer, according to Ron McQueen, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lubbock.

“The immediate future is pretty dry — it’s going to dominate for some time to come,” McQueen said.

“Through the rest of the summer it looks like there’s a good likelihood of hotter than normal temperatures, the drought conditions should not ease and could worsen,” he said.