For Crops, Recent Storms Both Friend and Foe

Published 06/18 2014 10:21PM

Updated 06/18 2014 10:34PM

by Victoria Price

LUBBOCK, TX -- For local cotton farmers, recent storms have hit hard, with winds and hail damaging much of their fields. But for other crops, like local wineries, the storms have been nothing but a blessing. The difference is all a matter of timing.

"It's not uncommon for us to lose a third or fourth of our acreage," according to Alan West, who's farmed along the Lubbock-Lynn county line for more than 20 years. "But this is most I've ever lost in one event, since I started farming."

West says he lost more than 80 percent of his 4,000 acres of cotton to recent hail and strong winds. Some of the stalks that managed to survive the storm, though, still incurred enough damage that they won't viably produce.

But just 15 minutes away, the growers at Llano Estacado winery are raising their glasses to the recent rains.

"It does good for the grapes," according to Llano's exeuctive winemaker, Greg Bruni. "The rain loves the grapes and the grapes love the rain."

Bruni says the difference between a helpful storm and a harmful storm is just a matter of time. In this case, just a matter of a couple weeks. If recent winds and hail had come merely a couple weeks sooner, before the vines' canopies had developed, their entire grape crop could have been demolished.

"Timing is critical," Bruni explains. "With grape vines, as you can see we have a lot of canopy on our lines, and the hail doesn't damage the grapes when we have canopy."  

Back over at Alan West's farm, time is also of the essence, as he races to plant sorghum as a replacement before the window of opportunity is up.

"We can only do what we're able to with the weather, so right now our hands have been tied," says West.

But, despite his losses, he remains positive.

"You know, you just have to take the good with the bad."

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