A bull tries to escape a running wildfire on April 19, 2011 in Graford, Texas. Getty Images / Tom Pennington / sacbee.com

By Robert Burns, Texas AgriLife
10 May 2011

Crop and forage production has "pretty much shut down" due to severe to exceptional drought conditions, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service statewide crop expert.

"If you look at the U.S. drought monitor, about 26 percent of the state of Texas is an exceptional drought," said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension program leader and associate department head of the soil and crop sciences department, College Station.

"Exceptional," means it is a one-in-50-year occurrence, Miller explained.

Much of the rest of the state was in what's classified as moderate, severe, or extreme drought. The distinctions are being based largely on how much damage and losses are expected to crops, forage production, livestock and water sources, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor classification scheme, details of which can be found at http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/classify.htm.

There were scattered pockets -- mainly in north central Texas -- that got some substantial rain a few weeks ago, Miller noted.

"But statewide, it's a pretty grim picture," he said. "And it's not just Texas; it's New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and parts of Arkansas. It's an exceptional drought across a big area." …

Much of the Texas wheat crop has failed as well, Miller said. "Probably in the order of 50 to 60 percent of the wheat crop won't be harvested," he said. …

Texas/Southwest gripped in drought

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