Texas Crop, Livestock Losses Reach $1.4 Billion

September 10, 2008

Texas agriculture officials estimated this year’s crop and livestock losses at $1.4 billion as spring and summer brought little rainfall and scorching temperatures.

Losses from crops were estimated at $1.1 billion, while livestock losses tallied $260 million, according to a release from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. The loss total includes lost hay production, added supplemental feed costs and other production expenditures.

“The hardest hit area by the drought was along Interstate 35, and east across the state,” extension economist Carl Anderson said in the release.

It is the third straight year weather has devastated Texas agriculture. Last year record rainfall flooded crops in South Texas and led to losses of $200 million. Drought across the state in 2006 brought the state’s worst ever single-year losses with $4.1 billion.

Texas, the second largest agricultural producing state behind California, had a rainy August that helped prospects for fall wheat production, but it wasn’t nearly enough for cotton, corn, grain sorghum and hay crops in the central, eastern and southern parts of the state, Anderson said.

Corn, sorghum and cotton yields are expected to be less than half those of the bumper crops last season, the extension service said.

“Cotton was also damaged in a widespread area across West Texas to New Mexico by lack of moisture, blowing sand and high temperatures at planting time,” Anderson said.

About 1.3 million acres of the 4.7 million acres of cotton planted statewide were destroyed. Texas, the nation’s leading producer of cotton, planted more than half of the nation’s acreage.

Cotton was the leading commodity most severely affected by drought, followed by hay, cattle, corn, grain sorghum and wheat.

About 52 percent of the state’s beef cows were in drought-affected areas, the extension service said.

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