WESLACO – Experts from throughout the state will gather in Weslaco on Jan. 29 to discuss options with growers facing severe water shortages this growing season, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
“Some of the larger water districts with large tracts of agricultural lands have told their growers they will receive only one irrigation this year,” said Brad Cowan, an AgriLife Extension agent in Hidalgo County. “Sugarcane, citrus and vegetables all require five to eight or more irrigations, so you can see the severe impact this water shortage is likely to have on agriculture this year.”
The expected water shortage is already challenging growers, he said.
“Many growers have been purchasing additional water and making decisions on which crops, both high- and low-water use crops, to plant and how many of those crops they will be able to sustain. But even grain sorghum or cotton, both traditional crops that are known to perform well with limited water require two irrigations most years.”
To help weigh their options, growers are invited to attend the 8th Rio Grande Valley Irrigation Conference and Trade Show, to be held from 7:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 2401 E. Business Highway 83 in Weslaco.
Registration is $20. The fee includes breakfast, lunch, refreshments and admission to the trade show and all technical sessions.
“We will have several trade show exhibitors on hand who provide excellent information and the latest in technology,” Cowan said. “There is always good interaction between growers and exhibitors.”
One hour of Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units will be offered for license holders, and four hours of certified crops advisors credits.
“Some of the smaller of the 26 irrigation districts in the Lower Rio Grande Valley are not on restrictions, or allocations, yet,” Cowan said, “but the vast majority of agriculture here will feel the pinch unless things change dramatically and soon. Growers should contact their irrigation districts if they haven’t already to determine their particular situation.”
Cowan said even dryland cotton acreage, which relies solely on rainfall, will likely be down this year.
“The market outlook for cotton prices to the grower is uncertain,” he said. “Prices were down last year and they show no signs of improving this year. Grain sorghum prices, on the other hand, look strong, so we may see an increase in grain acreage.”