East Texas farmer says crop losses now could mean higher prices next year

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 5:14 PM CDT
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WOOD COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - It’s been a rough summer for East Texas farmers, many of whom suffered up to a 50-percent loss in their normal yield.

Now the concern for some farmers is how will that figure into inflation and crop losses long term.

As Wood County farmer Lowell Tanksley husks garlic from his last harvest, he looks back on a near disastrous summer.

“When those 100 degree temperatures hit in June, I lost probably 50-percent of my tomatoes and peppers, and late cabbage more like 80-percent,” he says.

He’s been farming for 25 years.

Though he watered constantly, he simply couldn’t stop the damage from this summer’s heat.

“We’ve never had that many 100-degree days in June. It just stressed them to a point that my crops never came out of it. It wasn’t a lack of water, it was the heat,” Lowell says.

Produce seen at stores and farmers markets only represents a fraction of what is harvested each season, much of it being preserved or processed for store shelves the next season.

Will low harvest create a shortage?

“I hope not but I’m afraid it will. I’ve talked to friends and other farmers and I worry about the food supply. I worry about so much farmland being taken out of production. I think we’re going to be in for some stressful high prices,” says Tanksley.

Lowell also has friends in the beef business, and it hasn’t gone well for them either this season.

“Grass and the price of feed, I know at least four that say they’re done. I see beef prices really going up next year,” he says.

He’s planted his fall crops and hopes a good fall harvest will turn things around.

“I’ve farmed my entire life. There’s been droughts, there’s been floods. Nothing you can do about it. You just regroup the next year,” Tanksley says.