Last summer, drought conditions threatened farmers’ crops and drove up hay prices in North Texas, but the rainy weather experienced this year has affected agriculture in the Hunt County area almost as much.
Due to soil saturation, several farmers in the area have had difficulty even planting their crops in the first place.
“We’ve had very little wheat planted so far. It’s like 20 percent of what it usually is,” said Loni Compton, with the USDA Greenville Service Center. “Corn was also way behind, with this year being about 10 percent of what’s usual. Cotton was about 15 percent and with soy beans, even, it was like 40 percent of what’s typical.”
Another reason why planting has been slow to take off this year is because the rain has washed away fertilizer as farmers have been trying to prepare their land, Compton explained.
While there have been reports and concerns from other parts of the state about the wet conditions bringing destructive insects and other pests, there have so far been few reports of crop infestations in Greenville this season.
“Not too many of our producers have told us about problems with army worms and other pests. All the problems they’ve mentioned have been moisture-related,” Compton added.
The wet conditions have also impacted farmers and ranchers in the area who raise livestock, as last year’s drought significantly reduced the nutritional value of grazing grasses and locally-produced hay.
“The drought last summer damaged the grasses, so we’ve been stocking up on alfalfa from a supplier in Paris to feed the herds through the winter,” said Christy Cox of Truth Hill Farm in Farmersville.
“Hopefully, if it dries up, our hay guy who lives closer will be able to go out and bale. So far, he’s only been able to get us 14 bales instead of 400, which is what we need.”
According to the USDA’s most recent weekly hay report, hay prices for coastal Bermuda grass in Northeast Texas are the highest in the state, averaging about $297-$330 per ton for good-to-premium quality, while the same type and quality of hay is selling for $210 to 230 in the Panhandle.
Despite the difficulties, Cox doesn’t plan on selling off any of her cattle, chickens, lambs or pigs this year.
“We sold a lot last year, during the drought, but with beef prices as low as they are now, we don’t want to give them away,” Cox said.
“It’s always too dry or too wet, and you just gotta roll with it,” she added with a chuckle. “That’s just how farming is.”