UPDATE: Corn producers discuss abandoning acreage due to drought - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

UPDATE: Corn producers discuss abandoning acreage due to drought

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Corn in the Texas Panhandle has experienced up to a 7-inch water deficit due to rainfall shortage through June. (AP File Photo) Corn in the Texas Panhandle has experienced up to a 7-inch water deficit due to rainfall shortage through June. (AP File Photo)

Some area corn producers may soon have to abandon their crops and that's one more disappointment from the rippling effects of the drought.

Thursday, we went to Bailey County to talk with farmer Jimmy Wedel. He's been farming for more than 30 years. He has more than 4,000 acres of corn along with other crops like cotton, peanuts, and soybeans. This year, he may be looking at a substantial loss.

"On the corn that I've abandoned and the reduced yields, we're going to have on our existing corn I'm probably looking at $250,000 to $500,000 of loss," he said.

Wedel says the problems stem from the weather.

"Even where we've got a good amount of water we've not been able to keep up with low humidity and high winds," Wedel continued. "None of the corn is going to make anywhere close to optimum yield."

This year the value of corn and cotton are high, but without rain, those growing both may have to choose.

"I've got corn and I've got cotton. Cotton uses less water than corn," Wedel explained.

Without rainfall farmers can only irrigate.

"They are having to make decisions on which ones actually end up being irrigated at this time and which ones may be abandoned," said David Gibson, executive director of the Texas Corn Producer's Board.

In our video at the top of the screen Wedel shows us the differences between corn with adequate water and corn without.

Corn producers across the state are trying to irrigate as much as they can, but it's an uphill battle.

"Growers are irrigating as fast as they can, but most of the irrigation schedules were built depending on what we consider a normal amount of rainfall," Gibson said.

Gibson estimates the area to be about 7-8 inches below normal precipitation levels. Without any guarantees of rain, Wedel is doing all he can.

"You have to deal with what the good Lord provides or doesn't provide and this year it's not rained," he continued. "You have to make the best of it with what you've got, and that's what we're doing."

Wedel says less corn could also hurt local dairy farmers because they may not have enough feed to give their cattle.

Below is a statement from the Texas Corn Producer's Board:

Record-high temperatures and the worst drought in nearly half a century has left many corn producers across the Panhandle deliberating irrigation and management strategies for a successful crop.

While the majority of the region's corn acres are irrigated, 2011's extreme conditions can be too much to reckon with for many producers and their available irrigation resources.

According to Texas AgriLife Agronomist Brent Bean and Irrigation Specialist Nich Kenny, much of the corn in the Texas Panhandle has experienced up to a 7-inch water deficit due to rainfall shortage through June compared to typical seasons.

Even assuming a producer has the irrigation capacity to meet this increased water demand, increased pumping cost alone would add up to an additional $35 per acre in input expenses.

These conditions have left some producers with just two options, 1) irrigate corn acres at less than full water demand or 2) strategically abandon a portion of corn acres to allow remaining acres to be adequately irrigated.

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service has developed a document to aid producers faced with this tough decision, which is available on the Texas Corn Producers Board's website.

TCPB discussed this issue with Sam Cameron, a risk management specialist with the USDA-Risk Management Agency in Oklahoma City, Okla., who said producers choosing to abandon insured irrigated corn for grain should contact their insurance company so they can have the acres appraised or adjusted in accordance with their policy.

"USDA-RMA said the producer's insurance company must be contacted prior to destroying the corn for silage or other use," TCPB Executive Director David Gibson said. "The company's adjuster may then determine the value of the crop or request the producer leave strips to be harvested at the end of the season to determine actual yield loss."

TCPB encourages producers planning to abandon corn acres and divert the crop to silage to reference a brief document on nutritive value concerns for drought-stressed corn harvested prior to maturity developed by Texas AgriLife Beef Cattle Specialist Ted McCollum.

Information provided by Texas Corn Producers Board

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