Dry weather plagues local farmers

By Mike Linn

A lack of precipitation and plenty of wind-battered crop land has been concerning area farmers, causing some to parlay excessive amounts of water onto their fields from area agriculture wells.
One Roosevelt County farmer, Colin Chandler, said he has already spent more money fixing water pumps this year than all of last year, and the demand for water on his land is already at mid-summer form.
Chandler, who farms 2,800 acres 14 miles west of Portales, said he is having second thoughts about his decision to plant a majority of corn (800 acres) this year rather than cotton (500 acres), which is more drought-resistant.
“This year I’m planting more corn than anything, whether that’s a wise decision or not I don’t know yet,” Chandler said. “As dry and hot as it is I wish I could change it, but I’ve already signed contracts to provide feed for area dairies and I have to fulfill my contracts.”
Dry and windy conditions hamper farmers’ planting.
“The wind we’ve had so far has completely turned loose this sandy country,” said Floyd McAlister, Roosevelt County Agriculture Extension Agent. “It’s got it blowing in such a condition and there’s nothing they can do to stop it.”
Some long-time farmers say change in weather patterns and better chances for rain typically arrive near full moons.
C. M. Baker, a retired farmer who lives in Portales, said it took him five years to learn that full moons induce weather-pattern changes, many of which include rain.
“I’m not going to say it will certainly rain on a full moon, I’ve got more sense than that,” Baker said. “But I will say there is a change in the weather and we’ll have more chance for rain.”
With a full moon slated for Friday, the National Weather Service Web site is calling for scattered thunderstorms today and possible thunderstorms on Friday.
Even so, this year’s rain totals are far behind last year’s at this time.
In 2003 .64 inches of precipitation has fallen, down from 2.09 last year at this time.
“It’s in a mess right now, and it’s not the farmers’ fault,” McAlister said. “It’s just been too dry too long, and we need rain bad!”