Fannin Soil & Water Conservation District

200 E. 1st St. Bonham, TX 75418
Tel: 903-583-9513 Ext:3
Fax: 903-583-7993
email:
maryjane.godwin@tx.nacdnet.net

National Resources Conservation Service

Tel: 903-583-9513  Ext:3

Fax: 903-583-7993
email: randy.moore@tx.usda.gov

Fannin Soil and Water Conservation District

NEWSLETTER

 

NRCS

DIRECTORS:
C. W. Jones, Chairman
Billy Partridge, Vice Chairman
Leon Bowman, Secretary-Treasurer
Harvey Milton, Member
David Keene, Member

Sam Stewart, Team Leader
Randy Moore, District Conservationist
Steve Deckard, Soils Cons. Technician
DISTRICT PERSONNEL
Derrell "Bear" Reed, Technician
Mary Jane Godwin, District Secretary

MEETS THIRD TUESDAY AT 8:30 A.M.
 

Volume 13

Summer 2006

Number 1-1

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3

Page 4

Speaker Summary from the North Texas Drought Program
August 17, 2006 Meeting in Bonham, TX

Drought Overview

Chris Schraeder, County Agent, Texas Cooperative Extension

Are we going to start seeing pyramids in the next few months?  Probably not, but  the drought has hit Fannin County really hard.  Looking at the Palmer Drought index, we can see that Fannin County and most of  Texas fall into the extreme drought category.  This is because the past two

years have offered little in the form of precipitation.  On a normal year,  Fannin County averages about 44 inches of rain per year.  Looking at 2005, Fannin County received 28 inches, 16 inches below normal.  In 2006, as of  August, Fannin County had received 24 inches of rain.  When we put these two years back to back, we can see that we are well below the normal ranges.  So where does this put us in the record books?  Statewide, we are having our 12th driest year on record.  In the Northeast Texas region, it is the 5th driest.  The only years that have been worst are 1899, 1910, 1921, and 1956.  As you can see, many of our producers today have never been in a drought as dry as this one.Is the drought here to stay?  All the models do point toward a drought persistent through November.  After November, thereare chances that we will see a lessening of the drought conditions.  So what does the drought mean to the producer here in Fannin County?  It means that our production of crops and livestock have started to suffer.  As of right now, the drought is estimated to have cost producers $4.1 billion, double that of the 2002 droughtof $2 billion.  We had the smallest wheat acreage harvested since 1925.  Here in Fannin County, we have had an estimated 51% loss on grain sorghum, 54%loss on oats, 57% loss on wheat, 77% loss on corn, and 79% loss on soybeans.  We have also estimated a 66% loss on native grass hay, 77% loss on sorghum hay, and 87% loss on improved grass hay.  In considering livestock, there is an estimated $750,000 dollar loss on quality of product.  Producers might have a tough row to hoe with the future showing higher input costs, lower production, and possible lower prices.  However, remember that it will rain again.  If producers will take a step back and begin to use the 3 P’s of drought management, planning, preparing, and proper management of resources, there will be greener pastures once again.

 

Livestock Management During a Drought – Feeding Strategies and Culling Criteria, Forage Poisoning: Nitrate, Prussic Acid, Aflatoxin

 

Evan Whitley, Ph.D. – Livestock Specialist and Team Manager, Noble Foundation

 

The most important thing to remember during a drought is that it takes grass to grow grass. A lot of us have gotten a few spotty showers recently and the tendency is to utilize pasture resources as they green-up. Use caution if you find yourself in this situation or else you might find your pastures in the same shape they were before these rains. In order to do this you may need to cull some cows, continue to stretch pasture resources by substituting with feedstuffs (hay/concentrates) and/or utilize winter pasture as an option this year. This summer has been a struggle, arguably one of the hardest in history for folks in northeast Texas. The key is going to be to only put money in your best cows, therefore pregnancy check as early as possible (culling any open females) and use any records you have kept to help in your decision-making process.

 

Drought Stress and Wildlife

 

Wes Littrell, Wildlife Biologist, Texas Parks and Wildlife

 

Many landowners are looking for ways that they can lessen the effects of the drought on the wildlife that use their property.  The “natural” response of wildlife to drought situations usually involves a reduction in animal numbers and a dispersion of vegetation use over wider areas and a wider variety of plants.  If numbers are low enough the remaining animals, and the plants that support them come through the drought in good enough shape to take advantage of improvements the following year so that wildlife and their habitat rebounds.  Unfortunately, many common “relief” practices have the opposite effect.  Feeders tend to concentrate deer into smaller areas where they can do significant damage to the most important natural food sources.  Numbers, especially in white-tailed deer are held to high through the drought causing damage to habitat that takes years to recover.  Aflatoxin and other toxicants or diseases add to the danger of turning a hard time for wildlife into a long-term problem. 

 

Landowners interested in helping wildlife through the current drought should focus their efforts on: 1) Reducing cattle numbers and excluding them from woodlands and foodplots where they are directly competing with wildlife.  2)  Reducing white-tailed deer doe numbers according to fall population surveys in order to improve herd health and fawn survival next spring. 3) Protecting and improving the growth of forbs and browse species that can draw moisture from much deeper than annual food plots. 4) Protecting some areas of native pastures in order to provide food and knee-high cover through the winter into next spring.  5) Continuing to supplemental feed at their normal rate with cool-season food plot mixes and feed sources that are aflatoxin free.

 

 

Drought Effects on Plants; Next Season’s Growth and Planning for Winter Pasture

 

James Locke, Soils and Crops Specialist, Noble Foundation

 

Now:

Be aware of aflatoxin, nitrate and prussic acid risks on drought stressed forages. Protect the perennial forage base.  Feed out of the drought in a dry lot or on a

sacrifice pasture to protect other pastures and allow them to re-grow when rains return.

Stockpile bermudagrass for winter use.  Apply 50 lbs/A N plus P and K.  Defer grazing until after frost.

 

Winter Pasture:
Soil test to determine nutrient requirements.  Use limited nitrogen early.  Only “dust in” the number of small grain acres you are willing to gamble on losing.  Practice aggressive weed and insect pest management.  Consider reduced or no-till systems to conserve moisture.Use winter annuals when available (ryegrass, bromes, etc.).

 

Spring:

Soil test to determine nutrient carry over.  Be ready early to control weeds.

 

Use proper grazing management, including light stocking rates and rest periods. The most important thing to remember during a drought is that it takes grass to grow grass. A lot of us have gotten a few spotty showers recently and the tendency is to utilize pasture resources as they green-up. Use caution if you find yourself in this situation or else you might find your pastures in the same shape they were before these rains. In order to do this you may need to cull some cows, continue to stretch pasture resources by substituting with feedstuffs (hay/concentrates) and/or utilize winter pasture as an option this year. This summer has been a struggle, arguably one of the hardest in history for folks in northeast Texas. The key is going to be to only put money in your best cows, therefore pregnancy check as early as possible (culling any open females) and use any records you have kept to help in your decision-making process.

 

 

Cattle Sales Caused by Drought

Steve Swigert, Economist, Noble Foundation

 

There are two options in dealing with tax implications of cattle sales caused by a drought. In the first option (Code 1033(e)), if a producer sells more draft, breeding or dairy animals than normal, they can elect not to recognize any gain if the proceeds are used to purchase replacement livestock within two years from the end of the tax year in which the sale takes place, and the time period can be extended to four years when the sale of animals in excess of normal is in a federal assistance designated area.

 

In the second option(Code 451(e)), the producer is allowed for a one year postponement of reporting the sales proceeds from livestock sold due to drought in excess of the number ordinarily sold. The animals do not have to be replaced as the reporting of the sales proceeds is simply deferred for one year.

 

Several requirements must be met with both of these options and each individual should check the specific rules of each option before deciding what is best for them.

 

Alternative Sources of Water, Handouts for: Drought Information-Tax Wise, Producer Resource Assistance List, and Green Milkweed Control Demonstration

Randy Moore, District Conservationist/Wildlife Biologist, USDA-NRCS

This drought started in 2005 where we received about 20 inches less rainfall from normal (44inches).  It has continued into 2006 as we are now less than normal rainfall than average.  Bonham Lake rainfall is about 2.3 inches less than normal and Honey Grove and other areas south are about 9.3 inches below normal which is less than last year at this time.  The biggest abnormality is the rainfall events.  We are hurting in rainfall during the warm season months where most plant growth occurs.

 

Crops are a failure, pastures have no grazeable forage, ponds for livestock water have dried up, hay is not plentiful and very expensive, livestock markets are dropping and forecast are not good.  Even if we receive our normal August rainfall (2.3 inches) we will still have severe drought conditions.  The Food and Agriculture Council in Fannin County estimate a 75% reduction in crop production and forage production thus far.

 

This drought is similar to the 1950's drought.  Farmers and ranchers survived because they are survivors always have been.  It does mean that we consumers

that benefit from the farmers and ranchers should do all we can to assist in these times of need.

 

In drought times, water is critical and hard to find in some areas.   Ponds dry up and cattle bog down.  I recommend ranchers to fence their ponds and provide a solid access to water in one or two areas.  These can be rocked to provide a solid base.  Other than wells, ranchers have to rely on wells or water supply companies.  In the long term ranchers should consider the well route (if water is available a reasonable depths) because of the low cost of the well and the continued water supply even during drought.  Sounds like a bad time to say you should have had a well for water but we usually do not think of these things until put in such a circumstance.  A list of well drillers is available at the Conservation Office in Bonham.

 

The best thing you can do to prepare for a drought is evaluate your pastures in early June.  If you are short of grass then, things will not get better for some time, maybe fall before our next serious rainfall event.Conserve soil moisture by controlling weeds in your pasture in early May through June with approved herbicides.

 

Handouts for Drought Information-Tax Wise, Producer Resource Assistance List, and Green Milkweed Control Demonstration are available at the Conservation Office in Bonham.

 

We appreciate our banks and the Fannin Soil & Water Conservation District that came out to sponsor the meal for this event.  This was a cooperative event put on by the Fannin SWCD, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Noble Foundation, and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.