Holes in the pattern

By July 12, 2018 Articles

When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”  –  Franklin D. Roosevelt

Oh no, not again.  I’m feeling more and more like a dryland cotton farmer in west Texas—at worst downright cursed, at best “precipitationally-challenged.”  For those of us in western Fisher County, it’s “same song, second verse”, i.e., two dry summers in a row.  Take, for example, this past Monday morning’s radar screen.  The white star indicates RPQRR; the yellow star indicates my little “Ponderosa” on the state line just east of Wellington.  Look closely at both and you’ll see the reason for my chagrin . . . close, but no cigar.

Our food plots are kaput.  Fisher County’s cotton crop is “disastered out.”  Quail and dryland cotton tend to track the same trajectories.  My blood pressure rises every time I hear a weather forecaster (especially from DFW region) lament rain for the weekend.  Alas, at least it’s raining somewhere (as opposed to 2011); I have faith we’ll be in the right spot at the right time, sometime.

Do you monitor your ranch/lease’s rainfall?  I use Farmlogs (www.farmlogs.com) to track the rainfall at 3 sites:  RPQRR, my Ponderosa, and my hunting lease in Howard Co.  As of 30 July, my YTD totals include:

  • RPQRR = 8.14 inches (50.4% drier than normal);
  • Ponderosa = 9.64 inches (32.4% drier than normal);
  • Hunting lease = 6.52 inches (50.3% drier than average).

Farmlogs is a handy (albeit often disappointing!) tool.  If you use it, how accurately do you think it works for you?  Our “actual” YTD rainfall at RPQRR as of 30 July (7.95 inches) was “pretty close.”   In my experience, when Farmlogs does miss the mark, it’s “optimistic”, i.e., overestimates what we actually received. The Farmlogs app also lets you see daily (or weekly) precipitation for previous years (plotted against the average).  As you can see, we’ve been “hurting” all year.


Some areas have fared better, especially South Texas and the northern portion of the Panhandle.

Some folks reckon we’re as dry as we were in 2011 . . . au contraire!  When I look at photographs from 2011, we’re not anywhere as “bad” cover-wise.  The Farmlogs graph for 2011 (below) indicates just how bad it was.

farmlog2011 2

And while I’m on my dry weather rant, let me ask how you rate your smartphone’s radar app?  I get so disappointed when I’m “seeing” rain on my phone’s radar but it was a mirage on site.  I call it “phoney radar.”  A green color used to indicate something, and yellow would indicate a good rain.  Doesn’t seem to be the case for past couple of years though.  If you’ve got a weather app you like, please e-mail me (drollins@quailresearch.org).

The long-range ENSO forecast is more promising.  I surely hope so.  Fall rains are good for broomweed and filaree, which are good for quail, and good for my attitude.  Here’s to next year!


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