Average rainfall predicted for area, some crops may thrive

By Steve Hansen

QCS Managing Editor

The National Weather Service has not yet confirmed an El Niño pattern forming in the south Pacific Ocean, but the service is 50 to 60 percent sure it’s going to happen.

That should be good news for eastern New Mexico, because El Niño patterns usually mean more rain.

As it stands, the weather service is predicting “average” moisture in New Mexico overall, Chris Luckett, an NWS meteorologist said March 6.  Average is good, he said, since below average rainfall has been the trend during the current drought.

The year 2015 got off to a good start, reports from the New Mexico State University Agricultural Experiment Station in Tucumcari said.  January and February’s snowstorms dropped 2.3 inches of moisture on the area, compared with an average of  .90 inches total for both months, That’s about two-and-a-half times the normal moisture, the report said.

The 2.3 inches of moisture resulted from 21 inches of snow that fell in both months.  of that total, 14.5 inches feel in January and 5.5 inches fell in February, the report said.

Adding December’s below-average snowfall of .38 inches of moisture from 4.75 inches of snow, the  total moisture for the winter has been 1.92 inches through February.  The winter’s total snowfall since December has been 26.5 inches, the report said.

Factoring in the winter’s good moisture, availability of irrigation water from the Arch Hurley Conservancy District and the outlook for average precipitation, the 2015 growing season should be good for grain and forage sorghums, hay but not alfalfa, and haygrazer feed crops, according to Leonard Lauriault, supervisor of the New Mexico State University Agricultural Experiment Station, Tucumcari.

Summer and fall wheat crops are likely to be planted, as well, Lauriault said, but he said he is not expecting this season to be good for cotton.

It’s not just less-than-favorable growing conditions, he said.

“Cotton prices have dropped,” he said, as China and India are supplying much of the world’s cotton.

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