Farmers Crop Suffers From Drought - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/2/06-Henderson County

Farmers Crop Suffers From Drought

  Increased fire danger is the most immediate concern with the drought, but not the only concern. It's making the hard job of East Texas farmers and ranchers even tougher. Some agriculturists say it's been at least 30 years since conditions have been this dry.

  Peach farmer Darren Rozell of Mt. Sylvan has been producing peaches for more than 30 years. Rozell has 78 acres of peach trees and 15 acres of blackberries and says the drought is hurting his crop. "It hurts me in the peaches and blackberries. Plus being in the agriculture business so it hurts me all the way around," says Rozel..

  His ponds are dry and the peach trees desperately need water. "We have a lot of drought wood and dead wood and it's from the drought of 2005," says Rozel. Due to the drought he is changing his pruning practices. "We usually prune pretty severely. However, we are cutting back on our pruning. We are having to watch and leave a lot of fruit wood so we make sure we don't reduce the crop for 2006," says Rozell.

  The warmer weather doesn't seem to help. Rozell says they need about 1,000 hours at 45 degrees and they are no where near that. The peach trees have only gotten a little over 500 hours of chill time. Without the right amount of chill hours, we wondered if could there be shortage? "It could make a shortage. It's a little early to predict but we are still fighting 2005 problems right now," says Rozel..

  The year 2005 was not good on the peach farm. Rozell lost 10 acres of newly planted peach trees and only 30 percent of the crop produced fruit.

  He hopes 2006 will be better. "I hope a 100% of producing crop, but we are going to have to get some cold weather and some much needed rain," says Rozel..

  Karolyn Davis, reporting. kdavis@kltv.com

 

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