The Texas High Plains received some much-needed rain in the month of May, but conditions across much of the area are still dry. In this post, we’ll discuss the current state of the drought, what the current temperature and precipitation outlook is for the next month, and what all of this might mean for production in the region.
Board Update 6/5/2023
Tulia, Amarillo, Dalhart Average – Cattle Prices by Category 6/1/2023
Dates & Deadlines
7/6/2023 – Ranchland Friend or Foe?
8/1 -8/2/2023 – 2023 Grain Grading Workshop
Recent Drought Conditions
The U.S. Drought Monitor uses the drought severity coverage index (DSCI) to convert drought levels in an area to a single number. The DSCI for the state of Texas decreased from 184 to 115 in the month of May, which indicates at least some reduction in drought levels across the state. Improvements in drought conditions can be seen in the figures below, which compare drought intensity in Texas on May 2, and on May 30.
Rainfall in the month of May helped the drought situation, but most of the Texas High Plains remains in moderate to severe drought as of last week. We’ll know tomorrow whether rains over the weekend did anything to further ease drought conditions in the area.
Looking Forward: Outlook for June
Will conditions continue to improve over the summer, or will the drought persist? The most recent monthly drought outlook from National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center would indicate that drought conditions will remain in the region but should improve, as illustrated in this figure:
Currently, NWS forecasts above normal precipitation during the month of June, leading to a reduction in drought intensity in the Texas High Plains and potentially a removal of drought conditions in some parts of the region by the end of the month.
How can we use this information moving forward? First, while we may be thankful for the rain we’ve received, we need to recognize that its timing may complicate the outlook for crop production in the region. It’s possible that the timing of rain in May prevented at least some acres in the northern parts of the Texas High Plans that had been planned for cotton from being planted. If this is the case, those acres may be reallocated to other crops later in the summer. We’ll get a better picture of what production looks like later in the month when the USDA acreage report is released.
Second, while conditions may not be as dry as they were last year, drought appears likely to persist over much of the Texas High Plains this summer. It will be important to have a drought management plan in place for both dryland and irrigated acres. For irrigated production, water availability will still be an issue. For anyone looking for ways to improve yield or water-use efficiency on their irrigated cotton, I recommend looking at this study on variable deficit irrigation that was recently published by a team of Texas A&M AgriLife researchers.