Project Drought: Arklatex Ranchers and farmers depend on rainfall

Published 11/10 2011 06:26PM

Updated 12/05 2011 03:04AM

Franklin Roosevelt, President during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, said, "When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on".  Those words ring true for Arklatex farmers and ranchers who are hanging on during the worst drought in five decades.

"If it continues another year it's gonna hurt in the pocketwise," said Johnny Walker, Gilliam, LA farmer.

    Corn, cotton and soybeans... That's how Walker tries to make a living.  He's working harder than ever thanks to the drought.

"Whatever your growing - corn - don't grow big because you need water for that... Cotton will burn up won't make much cotton," said Walker.

    Two years in, folks like Stephen Logan, say their crops are suffering.

"It affects your yield.  You don't average as much per acre.  So you're total output is reduced," said Logan.

    So far, irrigation has gotten him through, but it's not cheap.

"We try to water as much as we can, but it increases your pumping costs, electrical costs... You can water but you can't replace mother nature's rain," said Logan.

 Most ranchers expect to get enough hay from their own land to get their cattle through the winter, but with this drought some have to purchase it for the first time.

    Cattle herds have been culled down because drinking water has become a problem as ponds dry-out.

"We're just counting on the rain this winter to recharge the soil, surface water, bayous, ponds," said Logan.

    Experts say we've been experiencing about half the normal amount of rainfall.

    Farmers worry less about how much rain we get than the timing of it.

 "It's really not the total amount of rainfall that we get that matters it's the distribution of the rainfall," said Logan.

    Despite predictions this drought isn't done... Bottom line, farmers say it needs to end A.S.A.P.

"If we have another two years like we've had the last two it'll be dire," said Logan.

    Still, they're trying to stay positive.

"Hope it rains.  Just look at the sky and say I hope it rains," said Walker.

    And, just like they did during past droughts, ranchers and famers will hang on... And pray for rain.

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