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Possible spring drought in Panhandle could cause economic concern for wheat production

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Updated: Feb. 26, 2021 at 7:13 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Wheat plays a crucial part in the Panhandles economy, if the drought continues, our wheat production could be affected.

Not only is wheat used for grain and many food items on your dinner table, farms use it for grazing.

“We plant about five million acres in the entire state each year and over one million of those acres are in the Texas Panhandle,” said Darby Campsey, director of communications and relations at Texas Wheat.

The cold weather from the storm has caused some damage, an expert says the drought has done more.

“The drought has probably caused more loss across the region than this weather event, so this is something that is just compounding injury that we’ve already seen,” said Jourdan Bell, regional agronomist at Texas A&M Agrilife.

Bell says she is optimistic, but could be impacted later on if no rain comes.

That would affect the wheat producer themselves and how much they put back into our economy.

“It has the potential to impact them financially by stressing the crop and leading to a yield loss and production loss which would mean they don’t make as much money on the crop,” said Campsey.

She says less production could also impact our transportation industry to the port of Houston or Galveston.

“If we’re sending out less wheat, then were not only impacting the state economy by decreasing the use of rail or truck or any of the barges coming in and out of the port, but we’re also going to be impacting our overseas customers,” said Campsey.

She says we export more than half of what is grown in Texas, and continuing our relationships overseas is crucial.

“As production goes down, that gives us less of an opportunity to fulfill those needs of overseas customers and as that begins to happen, we wouldn’t want to see any issues with our trading partners looking for other sources of wheat,” said Campsey.

“Doppler” Dave provides us an outlook going forward.

“The official 90-day outlook for March April and May is for below normal precipitation,” said “Doppler” Dave Oliver, chief meteorologist at NewsChannel10.

Dave says take these long-range forecasts with a grain of salt due to what conditions winter brought our way.

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