Despite Storms Denton County Farmers Toil With Dry Conditions

A quick round of storms Thursday may have provided only temporary relief for farmers across the Metroplex as the on-going drought continues.

The National Weather Service says September will go down as the driest on record for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

On average the area received only 0.06 inches of rain, breaking the previous record of 0.09 set in 1984, and hitting the lowest mark since records on the matter began in 1898.

The NWS also notes that there have been only 35 months in that time -- less than 3 percent -- that have registered as dry as this one.

The latest drought update published Thursday to the U.S. Drought Monitor shows all of North Texas in severe to exceptional drought.

The effects could be seen far and wide throughout Denton County Tuesday.

Lake levels remain exceptionally low including Lake Ray Roberts at nearly 7 feet below normal and Lake Lewisville fairing barely any better at 6.67 feet below.

Many farms throughout the county are feeling the sting as well.

As of Friday all of Denton County set in the severe to extreme drought range and most fields were again looking dry despite Thursday afternoon’s hour or so soaking.

Denton farmer Tommy Calvert said he's seen less than half the hay yields he'd normally have in a year with an extremely poor showing on his most recent bailing.

"In this one area right here you could have up to 20 bails, but right now we only have 3," said Calvert.

He said hay growth was only about a third of the size it normally is on his farm and grazing grass for his cattle has come in so poor he's already had to start feeding them some of his winter hay stock.

"I'm going to do whatever I have to do, is necessary to keep it viable, keep it operational," said Calvert who's farmed the land in south Denton since he was a boy; when his grandfather owned it.

However many have not been so lucky.

As a leader at the county Farm Bureau, Calvert has seen a lot of local farmers have to leave the profession in recent years, due heavily to the drought they've now suffered through since about 2010.

"I see people that are having to get out of the business that have been in it for a long, long time because they just can't stay when there's not enough water or there's not enough forage for their animals," he said. "How long can you lose money before you decide maybe the time has come?"

The effects will also likely be felt beyond the agriculture industry.

We've already seen raising beef prices in the past few months and as crops come in low experts expect more sticker shock for consumers as the drought goes on.

Calvert and the farm bureau have heard forecasts of a 7 year drought and expect farmers will have to weather the storm, or lack of storm for some time.

"The weather is definitely a huge, huge factor," he said adding that we're at Mother Nature's mercy on this one.

Calvert says the large, occasional rain events we’ve seen this summer are little help as much of the water simply floods the fields temporarily and never really soaks in deep.

He believes we won’t see real relief from the drought until we start getting consistent moisture.

When that will happen, again, is up to nature.

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