Stormy Days

When Tropical Storm Beta hit last week, rain filled Wharton County rivers and creeks, such as the Tres Palacios creek pictured above. Fields and roadways also had some flooding due to the storm, but the county was largely spared.

Many local crop producers dogged potential damage from Tropical Storm Beta’s rains last week since they were able to harvest early this year, and are now enjoying a break from adverse weather this week while the Gulf of Mexico is free of storms.

Tropical Storm Beta made landfall on Sept. 22 in Port Lavaca bringing rains to Wharton County, but minimal flooding.

About 90 percent of the cotton harvest was completed ahead of Beta, according to the Weekly Cotton Market Review from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some areas in Texas received 15 inches of rain due to the storm, however, delaying crop transport, closing some cotton gins and preventing needed field work.

Tim Cerny, a cotton and corn producer in Danevang, was able to avoid most of the storm’s damage since he was almost finished harvesting.

“Most of my crops were out of the field, but there were some guys who still had cotton to harvest and corn,” Cerny said. “We had a lot of field work we needed to do …  (The storm) delayed us.”

Corn harvest in Wharton County is largely finished, with Texas’ peak harvesting season running Aug. 1 through Oct. 11. Cotton’s harvest season is a little later with peak harvest running Sept. 13 through Dec. 21.

After Beta made landfall, areas of El Campo received between 5.3 and 8.5 inches of rain in a 72 hour period, according to the Wharton County Office of Emergency Management. Wharton received between 5.8 and 6.3 inches in the same time period.

Prior to the storm, Wharton County was under a burn ban due to lack of rain.

Kenny Blair, who produces hay outside of El Campo, was battling dry conditions before the storm, like many local farmers.

“The rain was beneficial for me, because it was dry,” Blair said.

This week no large storms are expected to hit the Gulf of Mexico. The National Hurricane Center is currently tracking Hurricane Marie in the Eastern Pacific ocean.

A semi-retired producer, local Howard Wittig farms soybeans on land between Wharton and Bay City. His crops were not impacted by the storm, and he was out of town when Beta swept through the area.

“I was harvesting on Aug. 18, and then I got through about the 23rd,” Wittig said.

The peak harvesting season for soybeans is Aug. 22 through Oct. 17 in Texas.

Donny Kainer produces soybeans near Louise and also finished harvesting in August. He wasn’t largely impacted by Beta, but rains a few weeks earlier did damage local soybean fields, he said.

“Some of the people had some soybeans left around, but most of ours were (harvested) a little earlier,” Kainer said.

This week, locals have been enjoying a break from the heat with the daily temperature averaging in the 70s.

The cool front hasn’t been enough of a temperature change to do any damage to local crops, however.

“It’s just been nice,” Blair said.

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