NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A number of contributing factors are making farmers and those monitoring the Texas agriculture industry concerned about lower crop production this year.
Farmers are coming into the year already stressed over the previous 12 months.
"We had a lot of complaints from growers of flooding in the spring where farmers said they lost a lot of crops," said Joe Masabni, a small acreage extension specialist from Overton. "We also had severe drought over the summer and then again flooding in the fall."
Masabni said the upcoming months also do not look promising.
"A lot of producers are expecting and planning for the worst," Masabni said.
Lois Hutson runs Lone Star Military Farmers in Jacksonville. Hutson said her farm took a major hit last year.
"Last year we had so much rain that our farmers couldn't get their gardens going," Hutson said.
Her plan this year is to utilize new methods including some greenhouse growing to help control the climate. The unpredictable weather has also left lingering effects as producers could see more insects and pests this spring.
"Watch out for a lot of that soft body fruit right now. There have been a growing number of invasive pests," said Erfan Vafaie, a Texas A&M entomologist.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller spoke in Lufkin last week where he said these factors along with low commodity pricing could hurt the state budget. Miller said the industry is expected to go from $115 billion to $75 billion.
"Our farmers and ranchers are going to have to make a critical decision in the next 30 to 60 days on what crops they are going to plant. I have told some they are going to have to look at what is going to lose them the least amount of revenue."
Techniques like high tunneling and drip irrigation can be used to combat the changing climate patterns. Masabni tells farmers that there are always other options.
As a farmer, you want to avoid risk," Masabni said. "Go away from risk instead of making it a challenge. You can't win the environment. You can't win that race. In a high tunnel, you can grow crops you are not used to but have a high market value.
As the clock continues to tick, Hutson said she is already preparing but knows Mother Nature sometimes has the upper hand.
"Everything is an experiment," Hutson said. "Just because it worked for you last year does not mean it will this year. Just cause it works for me does not mean it is going to work for you."