Farmers Focus On Protecting Vulnerable Livestock And Crops As Cold Blankets Texas

The Valley’s citrus farmers got lucky. And ccme spring, wheat farmers will thank the cold for killing lots of insects.

By Christopher De Los Santos & Rhonda FanningJanuary 18, 2018 7:28 am| ,

The impact of this week’s freezing temperatures in Texas cities got a lot of attention, but the cold was felt on farms and ranches, too.

Gene Hall of the Texas Farm Bureau says that making sure livestock can find food and water is among a farmer or rancher’s most pressing concerns when the weather turns cold.

“Farmers and ranchers never shut down in cold weather,” Hall says. “They’re out there breaking ice on the trough so livestock can get a drink. They’re out there tending to livestock and trying to keep them out of the wind.”

Hall says that in the Rio Grande Valley, where citrus crops are susceptible to harm from cold weather, temperatures this week didn’t reach the danger point.

“The numbers they always worry about are 28 and 13,” Hall says. “If it gets colder than 28 degrees for more than 13 hours, you’re looking at a real disaster. Trees could die.”

Vegetable crops probably did receive some damage, Hall says.

Many farms in the state are family-owned, especially in Southeast Texas, an area that received heavy damage from Hurricane Harvey. Hall says many crops in Harvey-impacted areas had been harvested after the storm, so damage from the cold snap wasn’t an issue.

Wheat and oat crops may actually have benefited from snow and freezing rain. Hall says cold weather kills a lot of bugs that otherwise plague grain crops.

Written by Angela Bonilla.