The dry conditions of South Texas are becoming far too familiar for us, but you know this unfortunately seems to be the normal for us.
Yes, our South Texas climate is recognized as unique, because it is the only subtropical prairie on earth located downwind from a large body of water, like the Gulf of Mexico, that has a semiarid climate.
Our atmospheric humidity in South Texas is similar to areas that have greater rainfall due to the effect from prevailing winds off the Gulf, yet we have these dry spells.
Wow, sometimes it is not good to be different, but that is what the creator gave us, so we have to learn to manage what we have.
The solution to dealing with our semi-arid climate and managing our rangeland is to always plan for the next drought. Someone once said planning for drought should begin when its wet or raining, so that means we should have been doing that last summer.
As one thinks about how to plan for extended dry periods here are some things to consider as suggested by Wayne Hamilton, Director of the Center for Grazinglands and Ranch Management at Texas A&M University-College Station.
Range managers should work to build their forage base so that soil cover is maintained, while at the same time work toward having the best kinds of plants and animals.
Other tips include improving efficiency of range utilization with better grazing distribution and making sure that livestock water is not a limiting factor.
Matching animal nutrient requirements with range nutrient availability is important, along with being able to assess the forage quality and quantity and mediate the deficiencies. Prepare a wildlife management plan and improve the efficiency of supplemental feeding programs, while at the same time develop less drought sensitive on- and off-ranch alternative income sources.
This is just a small sample of items to consider when planning for droughts, but your number one goal should be to maintain soil surface cover, as this will facilitate rainfall recovery in the soil profile when rains return.
Range Management Field Day to be held April 29
Managing our native South Texas Rangelands will be the focus of a Field Day on April 29 at the Rob and Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation Refuge, eight miles north of Sinton off U.S. Highway 77.
The Field Day activities will begin with registration at 8:30 a.m. and will conclude by 3:30 p.m.
Topics of discussion in the morning will include managing pastures with fire by Megan Dominguez, Extension Range Specialist; Coastal Bend Prescribed Burn Association by Terry Blankenship, Director of Welder Wildlife Foundation; pond management by Jon Herrmann, Herrmann's Fish Farm; and beef cattle handling tips by Joe Paschal, Extension Livestock Specialist.
Following a catered noon meal, topics to be discussed include rangeland risk management tools by Larry Falconer, Extension Economist; South Texas 'brush management; and managing rangelands to sustain wildlife by Terry Blankenship.
To assist with program planning, all those planning to attend should pre-register by April 25 by calling either (361) 364-6234 or (361) 767-5223.
There will be a registration fee of $25 per person payable on site in order to cover field day expenses, including meal and educational materials. Three continuing education units will be offered for pesticide applicators and 5.75 for certified crop advisors.
Jeffrey Stapper is the Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent for Nueces County. Readers may contact him at 767-5217.