When it gets dry in the spring, ag producers in South Texas will remark, "We sure need to get that 'Cinco De Mayo Rain,' and that is certainly an understatement this year.
Persistent strong winds this spring along with above normal to record high temperatures have depleted valuable soil moisture accumulated last year and this January, which leaves us with the current drought conditions. And to add an insult to that, we have record commodity prices that we will not be able to take advantage of, as our crop yields will be depressed this year.
Out west, and north, of us wildfires have been causing a huge problem, not only for ranchers, but many homes have been lost. Even if ranchers were able to move their livestock away from the racing flames, damages continue to mount as ashes pile up behind the wildfires that have blackened terrain across the state.
David Anderson, AgriLife Extension livestock marketing specialist in College Station, said the damages as a result of the wildfires will rise into the millions of dollars as ranchers look at anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000 per mile to replace fence and having to feed cattle where pastures were lost.
Almost one million acres of Texas has burned recently in the numerous wildfires, according to the Texas Forest Service.
AgriLife Extension agents across the state are working with the Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Independent Cattlemen's Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association and Texas CattleWomen to set up livestock supply points in six different locations.
The Texas Department of Agriculture recently announced donations can be made also to the State of Texas Agriculture Relief, or STAR, Fund. The STAR Fund may be used to rebuild fences, restore operations and pay for other agricultural relief efforts. Monetary donations can be made by going to www.TexasAgriculture.gov and clicking on STAR Fund under "Most Popular Links."
The Texas Department of Agriculture Hay and Grazing Hotline is a service also being offered to help locate forage and hay supplies. The online link to it also can be found on the agency's Web site and clicking on "Disaster Assistance."
While hay distribution points have been established and hay is being donated, there's a problem in some areas finding transportation to get hay from the donation location to the livestock supply points. Individuals willing to help transport hay are also encouraged to contact the different county agents in charge of these livestock supply points.
Those with hay or fencing materials to donate, or with equipment to help haul hay, should check with county Extension agents in the following counties; Fisher, Palo Pinto, Tom Green, Eastland, Stonewall, Jeff Davis and Pecos. The supply points and individuals can be found at a
Google Map of all supply points: www.livestocksupplypoints.texaseden.org.
Here are some common sense tips that should be followed to help prevent wildfire:
Obey outdoor burning bans. Don't burn trash or debris when conditions are dry or windy. Unsafe burning of leaves, brush, household trash and other debris is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Texas. Keep lawn mowers and agricultural equipment in proper working condition and avoid rocks and other materials which might cause a spark. To report suspicious activities, call the Arson Hotline at (888) 501-3850. If possible, safely obtain an accurate description of the person and/or vehicle (including the license number) before calling the hotline. Humans cause more than 90 percent of all wildfires. Do not weld or cut without a spotter, a water source and a shovel.
Jeffrey Stapper is the Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent for Nueces County. Readers may contact him at (361) 767-5217.