WET CONDITIONS END DROUGHT, CAUSE PROBLEMS
Hill Country residents may need to start
building an ark.
rains have led the state’s climatologist to declare an end to drought conditions in Texas for
the first time in at least a decade.
“We’ve gotten so much rain this year we’ve
pretty much made up for the past few years’ drought conditions in several areas of the state,” said John Nielsen-Gammon,
who also is a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University.
secret that South Texas has received more rain this summer than all last year. Frankly, it’s
The year-to-date recorded rainfall in Kerrville is 45.65 inches. That is more than double the 30-year average, year-to-date rainfall
of 17.89 inches.
Last year, between January and July, Kerrville
received 11.72 inches. Total rainfall for 2006 was 21.56 inches.
Clearly out of a drought,
the rains have been beneficial and detrimental to the Hill Country.
The good news
Four months ago, it looked as if Kerr County was going to experience another summer of drought conditions.
For the past two years, the county experienced below normal precipitation, which took its toll on water levels
in local wells.
According to the Headwaters Groundwater Conservation District, aquifer levels
are recovering from drought levels, some rising more than 50 feet from last year. No water restrictions have been in place
Upper Guadalupe River Authority officials said the rains are keeping the Edwards
Plateau aquifer recharged and the springs flowing, so the river will stay “normal” even during less rainy times.
According to UGRA General Manager Ray Buck, 90 percent of the river flow at Kerrville
emanates from springs located in the Edwards Plateau aquifer.
The Guadalupe River height is above average for
this time of year, which could reduce the potential for dangerous levels of bacteria.
the last few years, water quality testing found high E. coli concentrations that exceed Environmental Protection Agency Standards
in two swimming areas in the Guadalupe River
— beneath the high bridges at Louise Hays
Parks and Kerrville-Schreiner
So far this summer, bacteria levels
are within acceptable levels, according UGRA’s swimability study.
The bad news
Local agriculture experts and horticulturists said while the rain has helped crops and native foliage flourish,
too much of a good thing is bad.
Roy Walston, Texas Cooperative Extension agent for Kerr County, said
hay producers are having a hard time harvesting their crop.
“We’ve got lots of
producers who are having a hard time getting in and cutting hay because it’s too wet to cut,” he said. “There’s
a lot of problems with hay production this year.”
Even though the hay is growing, the
quality may be compromised because it has not been harvested in a timely manner.
may be able to get out and cut it, but then it rains again and the hay can’t be baled,” Walson said.
Hay growers across South Texas are in the same situation.
“There has just been too much rain,” said Wayne Thompson, Harris
County extension agent. “And just like we had problems with weeds
that are drought-tolerant a while back during the drought, now we’re having problems with weeds that are tolerant to
Sedge, a native, invasive weed with more than 100 varieties, is out
of hand in most pastures.
Walston said the rain can carry away nitrogen fertilizers used to
improve soil, which can weaken the hay’s quality.
An increase in internal parasites
in livestock has also emerged this summer.
“We’ve seen parasites in sheep, goats
and cattle because of rain and moisture,” Walston said. “We are seeing as bad a year as ever for internal parasites,
so we are losing some livestock because of that.”
Walston also said growers have noticed
some fungal diseases in pecans and some turf grasses.
“Anytime we get this much wet
weather, you are going to see more fungal diseases,” he said. “A little dry weather would sure help things.”
Fungal diseases and over watering have plagued native plants, garden vegetables and fruits and grasses.
Karen Smith, manager at The Plant Haus 2 in Kerrville,
said most native plants are desert-type plants that are not used to getting so much rain.
of them die and some of them look extremely sick,” she said. “A lot of them can’t tolerate this much rain.
We’re throwing away plants daily.”
Smith said tomatoes typically need eight to
10 hours of sun a day, which has not been possible during the last few months.
gardens have just drowned,” she said. “I don’t every recall a summer like this. Lots of lawn fungus diseases
are really prevalent right now.”
Area residents have reported trees dying because of
the over abundance of rain. A powdery mildew on crape myrtle trees also has been reported.
seen some trees that died very quickly,” Smith said. “We’ve had quite a few different oaks that died overnight.
It’s been too much water.”
An increase in garden pests such as caterpillars has
been reported in the area as well.
Good drainage is the key in helping local foliage survive
the wet weather.
“Plants do not like to have their feet wet,” said John Coleman,
Times garden columnist. “They do not like to sit in water. Good drainage is critical for them.”
Both Coleman and Smith said rain and puddles that collect in flower beds or gardens should be drained because
it could lead to rotting fruits, vegetables and roots.