Drought to determine if rice is grown in Texas

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Reports are that growing rice in the Colorado River basin in Texas is still on hold until March 1 when irrigation and water authorities will make a final decision on whether water for irrigation will be released from Lakes Buchanan and Travis.

If the lakes’ water levels are too low, there won’t be water to grow rice in 2013. Although there has been some recent rainfall in areas of Texas, the drought that has engulfed much of the state has been so severe rice growers aren’t overly optimistic.

An Associated Press report showing the problem from the perspective of a non-grower businessman earning a living from rice quoted Tom Kallina, an Eagle Lake, Texas, owner of Area Rice Marketing, who brokers rice sales between rice farmers and commercial buyers. “In an average year, Kallina analyzes and markets about 15,000 acres of rice. Last year, he did only 2.500 acres, and while he also has a rice storage and drying facility, the income from that is not enough to supplement the rapidly failing marketing business,” according to the AP article written by Ramit Plushnick Masti.

To alleviate the water shortages for rice production, some larger growers are drilling their own wells, but that isn’t a complete answer for growing rice. As reporter Masti wrote, a farmer drilling a well can figure on payback not being complete for 20 years of rice crops.

The jury seems to be out on whether rice will continue to grown in this part of Texas because of water shortages and water costs. Rice has reportedly been grown in much of the area since the 1890s.

The Lower Colorado River Authority has the cards for determining the future of irrigating crops. There has been some talk about constructing water reservoirs in the farming areas for irrigation water. 

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