"County Agent: Dynamics of Matagorda County fields, farms" By Aaron Sumrall, PhD County Extension Agent Agriculture & Natural Resources

   Just a short two weeks ago, farmers in Matagorda County were measuring cracks in the ground up to and exceeding seven feet because of a concerning stage of drought.  
   Oh, how things can change in such a short period of time. 
   In the past two weeks most locations across Matagorda County have seen more than a foot of rain in a culmination of just two rainfall events.  
   Obviously, rain is critically needed in all areas of agriculture but excesses can be catastrophic in certain instances. Matagorda County crops are currently in one of those instances.  
   Grain sorghum is very near harvest-ready where excess moisture levels affect maturing grain unique to the crop.  
   The producing seed head of the plant is exposed at the top of the plant and open to the elements.  
   When the crop is at the current stage, excess moisture followed by prolonged periods of high humidity and cloud cover, the grain cannot dry.  
   Grain sorghum that cannot dry appropriately when nearing harvest will re-sprout on the plant leaving the crop at no value.  
   It remains to be seen if this will be the case or not, but conditions are not on the side of the farmer.  
   Next is corn that is also nearing harvest-ready.  
   Counter to grain sorghum, corn at current stages that cannot dry appropriately will begin to spoil and rot on the plant.  
   The shuck of the corn acts as a blanket holding the moisture in and preventing drying.  
   Add to this the saturation stage of the fields and harvest of the grain could be difficult. 
   Our rice farmers are not exempt from their own concerns.  
   Currently Matagorda County rice farmers are dealing with an issue of rice plants dropping the producing tillers of the plant.  
   Research and monitoring of the crop is being conducted to determine cause and treatment, as well as economic impact. 
   Continuing with this is a speculated potassium deficiency with the cotton crop.  
   Tissue samples have been collected and sent to lab for testing to isolate the culprit of the symptoms.  
   Cotton production is further impacted by excess rains in that plants are dropping squares and young boles.  
Now from xylem and phloem to arteries and veins  
   Livestock also is impacted by the rainfall in the form of astronomical increases in mosquitos and flies. Currently Matagorda County is covered with a big calf crop.  
   Excessive levels of flies and mosquitoes are causing cattle to stay on their feet throughout the night looking for relief form the bites.  
   Calves are sold by weight and ranchers try to get the weight on the calf as quick as possible.  
   When cattle do not have the opportunity to rest and gain weight, the rancher suffers economically.  
   Calves finish lighter when under stress. 
   Cows will have decreased efficiencies in milk production and overall body condition.  
   The decrease in milk will adversely affect the calf and the shortfalls in body condition could cause cows to be delayed in re-breeding, which will affect the next calf crop and ultimately bottom line economics.  
   Ranchers will need to determine how and when to alleviate the pressure brought on by the parasites and possibly even have to supplement feed during the summer – which is uncommon.    

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