After watching helplessly as the merciless heat and drought ravaged his vegetable crops by 75 percent last season, Cisco farmer Payton Scott says he won't fight another losing battle.
"If it burns up, I'll quit on it," said Scott, whose 60-acre Scott Farms supplies a wide variety of vegetables to farmers markets, grocery stores and restaurants in Fort Worth.
"If this year is even close to being as bad, it will ruin us," he said.
He's not alone. Farmers and ranchers fear that the record Texas drought, which devastated the state's agricultural industry in 2011, could be kicking up dust for years to come.
Despite this week's rains, worries about a looming Round Two have farmers rethinking what they plant based on water needs and heat tolerances. Expect to see more drought-tolerant cotton patches, less corn and fewer thirsty vegetable fields this year, experts say.
The drought will also echo across ranchlands for years to come.
The state cow count dropped by about 700,000 last year to 4.5 million, its lowest since the 1950s, as ranchers liquidated herds or trucked stock to greener pastures in the north, said Eldon White, vice president of the Fort Worth-based Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
Even with more rain, pastures will take one to three years to recover, he said.
"Ranchers won't build up herds until it rains again," White said.
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