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What a difference a little rain makes. For TDCJ, the right amount of rain at the right times produced a far greater harvest of grains and cotton this year than in drought-stricken 2009.
Corn production more than doubled in 2010 from the previous year, with approximately 67.3 million pounds harvested from 12,000 acres. Cotton production rose from 6,337 bales in 2009 to a projected 9,500 bales this year. Hay production remained about the same, with 35 million pounds baled on 6,700 acres across the state.
We planted a thousand more acres of cotton to meet the needs of our textile mills, but the production per acre was higher than normal due to the timely rains we had, said Garry Kent, deputy director of the Agriculture, Land and Minerals Department.
Cotton is harvested at the Ellis Unit in Huntsville.
Indeed, rains were plentiful across much of the state compared to 2009 when drought cut TDCJ corn production by 30 percent and the cotton harvest fell by 25 percent. From January through September 2009, only 16 inches of rain fell at the Ramsey Unit in Brazoria County compared to 43 inches during the same time period this year. The Brazoria area, where many TDCJ crops are grown, normally averages between 35 and 48 inches of rainfall annually.
We had some good, timely rains hit in the proper amounts, and our harvest speaks for itself, Kent said.
Gardens managed by Kents department also benefited from well-timed rains this year, producing 13 million pounds of more than 30 vegetable varieties between January and August. Unit-managed vegetable gardens produced 2.8 million pounds through August.
Kent said heavy rains that began falling last October came too late to help the 2009 harvest, but did prep the soil for this growing season.
It helped us get our subsoil moisture up for planting this year, Kent said. We went into planting season in much better shape, and the rains this year, fortunately, came almost exactly when you would want them.
Kent said the milo and oats crops were also bountiful, but that he was most pleased with the cotton and corn harvests.
Thats what we needed to concentrate on most because of last years reduced yields, he said. So were happy with it. Were happy we got the rain. It made for a surplus crop for us, and were in very good shape going into the winter.