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Landowners Need To Prepare For After The Drought

As the dry weather continues across Texas, land management experts say it's time to start planning ahead. They say farmers and ranchers need to act now to preserve their lands, so they can best take advantage of rainfall when the drought is over.

Texas Tech Natural Resources Professor Emeritus Ron Sosebee says the state’s cattle ranchers don’t have much of a choice right now when it comes to preserving their grazing lands.

drought pasture
The drought has taken its toll on a Burleson County pasture. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

“Either move your livestock to leased country where there is grass, or sell them.”

Sosebee says the longer a rancher leaves cattle on drought-stricken grassland, the more damage the animals will do.

“And the real key when this drought ends, is to have some vegetative cover on that ground in order to capture the rainfall that does occur”

Most of the rainstorms that occur on Texas plains come in the form of short cloudbursts.  Those intense showers can produce many inches of rain in just a few minutes. Sosebee says if there’s not adequate ground cover, about 90 percent of the water simply washes off.  Coupled with high winds and wildfires, ranchers could see major soil erosion.

“We’ve had significant wind erosion following those fires, because there’s nothing to hold it and the winds have blown this past winter and spring and even through the summer now.”

Sosebee says drought is actually the norm in many parts of Texas. He says grazing lands need to be managed to accommodate dry years, instead of holding out for years with average or above average rainfall.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Texas has around 94 million acres currently under drought conditions.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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