Drought conditions are good news for area grape growers - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Drought conditions are good news for area grape growers

TERRY COUNTY, TX (KCBD) -

While the extreme drought in the South Plains is causing major problems for crops and cattle, one business is thriving in these dry conditions. Grape producers are doing extremely well in both crop yield and quality of the grapes they're producing this year.

"The only thing that would be a little bit better is if it wasn't quite the 103 degrees…  if it would stay in the low to mid 90's I'd be a lot happier, but right now the grapes are pretty happy," said Dusty Timmons, AgLife Extension associate and wine grape producer.

Timmons has been producing grapes in Terry County for about seven years and says these desert-like conditions are perfect for his crop.  "A rain will actually set you back. The rain gets into the skin of the berries, dilutes the sugars and thus delays ripening," said Timmons.

No rain also means shorter vine shoots, three feet in length and shorter. "The soil is very fertile here, and with rain the shoots can grow as much as 30 feet. That excessive shoot growth will lower your wine quality because it causes too much shading," said Timmons.

On top of that, grapes require significantly less water than most other crops, and draw most of its moisture from their deep root systems reaching 16 feet underground. "Over the course of a growing season, you're talking about in the neighborhood of 50 to 60% less irrigation than what your typical cotton crop will need," he said.

The drought and high winds have also protected the crops from their number one enemy, fungal disease – something that can significantly damage the grapes.

"While the winds have made it a nightmare to work in the vineyard because you're fighting sand, and your cleaning your ears out, and washing your tan off every day, it's actually a blessing. It's very difficult for any fungus to live when you have 0% relative humidity and 60 mile an hour winds," he said.

Timmons also says they'll be able to harvest about eight to 10 days earlier than normal with a great crop to send to the wineries.

Terry County produces 50 – 70 % of the state's wine grapes with the most varieties at 32 and produces the most revenue of any county in Texas.

Copyright 2011 KCBD. All rights reserved

  • Local News on KCBD.comNewsMore>>

  • The Latest: IOC member pans fellow members as 'old farts'

    The Latest: IOC member pans fellow members as 'old farts'

    Tuesday, February 20 2018 8:12 PM EST2018-02-21 01:12:24 GMT
    Wednesday, February 21 2018 6:36 AM EST2018-02-21 11:36:34 GMT

    The Trump administration says Vice President Mike Pence was ready to meet with representatives from North Korea during his visit to the Olympic Games in South Korea but that North Korea canceled at the last minute.

    The Trump administration says Vice President Mike Pence was ready to meet with representatives from North Korea during his visit to the Olympic Games in South Korea but that North Korea canceled at the last minute.

  • Mavs launch probe after allegations of workplace misconduct

    Mavs launch probe after allegations of workplace misconduct

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 2:13 AM EST2018-02-21 07:13:50 GMT
    Wednesday, February 21 2018 6:36 AM EST2018-02-21 11:36:51 GMT

    The Dallas Mavericks have hired outside counsel to investigate allegations of inappropriate conduct by former team president Terdema Ussery in a Sports Illustrated report that described a hostile workplace environment for women.

    The Dallas Mavericks have hired outside counsel to investigate allegations of inappropriate conduct by former team president Terdema Ussery in a Sports Illustrated report that described a hostile workplace environment for women.

  • Drought over: US women win 1st Olympic cross-country gold

    Drought over: US women win 1st Olympic cross-country gold

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 6:15 AM EST2018-02-21 11:15:05 GMT
    Wednesday, February 21 2018 6:29 AM EST2018-02-21 11:29:33 GMT

    The United States had never won a medal of any kind in women's cross-country skiing prior to the race.

    The United States had never won a medal of any kind in women's cross-country skiing prior to the race.

Powered by Frankly