Lack of rainfall and record triple-digit temperatures have scorched crops and rangeland throughout parts of Texas causing drought losses to reach $3.6 billion, Texas AgriLife Extension Service economists reported Monday.

By the end of the year, losses could exceed $4.1 billion, the loss estimated in Texas in 2006, if sufficient rainfall isn’t received to revive crops and forage, economists said. Total crop losses this year are estimated at $2.6 billion and livestock, another $974 million since November 2008.

“Extreme or exceptional drought conditions for the second year in a row and prolonged weather with over 100 degree temperatures have devastated agricultural crops and livestock operations, especially in Central and South Texas,” said Carl Anderson, AgriLife Extension economist and professor emeritus. “This area covers about 40 percent of Texas. With the exception of Northeast Texas, the trans Pecos and the Southern Panhandle areas, the entire state is suffering from lack of sufficient rain for more than a year.”

Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension agronomist and a member of the Governor’s Texas Drought Preparedness Council, said the drought is not only impacting major agricultural operations, but also water supplies “for more than 30 percent of the State of Texas.”

“Most dryland crops in South and Central Texas, the Gulf Coast and the Rio Grande Valley are either zeroed-out (total loss) or will yield a small fraction of their normal yields,” he said.

It's the hottest, driest summer on record over a large portion of the state, but especially in the central, south and southwest regions, said Jose Pena, AgriLife Extension economist in Uvalde.

“Rainfall in a large part of South Texas has been less than 4 inches since the start of this year,” he said.

Read more.

Watch a video clip on the drought here.

Source: Texas A & M University