Wichita County irrigation system helps farmers

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 6:37 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Farmers in Wichita County are saying this is one of the toughest years they have had for growing crops due to the extreme dry weather.

Wichita County has an irrigation system that has been the driving force for farmers’ water source this year. Without it, there is a chance farmers would not be able to yield anything from their crops.

“Depending on areas of the county, we had a 3-5 day window, that is all we had this year to plant our crops,” Dwayne Peirce, farmer in Wichita County, said. “If you missed those windows, you just did not get a stand. Basically you had a failure.”

Everyone has been affected by the drought this year, with farmers taking some of the biggest hits. It was described as the most challenging year in a decade.

“This has been about a tough of summer as I remember since 2011,” Kyle Miller, Wichita County Water Improvement District 2 general manager, said. “It reminds me a lot of 2011.”

With the lack of rain, farmers have had to turn to the Wichita County irrigation system for their water source.

“Last summer, we didn’t even start irrigation really until the first part of June,” Miller said. “This year, we started April 18th.”

“Because of no rainfall from Mother Nature we have had to supply with a supplemental water source, so this irrigation district has been perfect for that,” Peirce said. “We were able to supply water in timely ways, the amount that we needed to sustain a good crop.”

The irrigation system runs water from Lake Kemp and Lake Diversion throughout Wichita County through canals. They have used double the amount compared to last year.

“Last year, we used about 20,000 acre feet total,” Miller said. “This summer we are going to use a little over 40,000 acre feet total.”

“We have had dry land cotton that has made over two bales to the acre, over a thousand pounds per acre,” Peirce said. “This year it is zero.”

“For me, it is a breaker if we didn’t have it, we would be struggling to make crops many of the years,” Peirce said. “My gross income would be 70% less possibly if we did not have irrigation in place.”

While the irrigation system has kept farmers afloat, if the dry weather continues through the winter into next spring, even the irrigation system would not be able to provide enough water to save their crops next year.

“The irrigation can still be in place, but if we don’t receive Mother Nature’s rains so we could get that stand, then the odds of getting a crop even in the irrigation district is slim,” Peirce said.

Peirce said they will harvest their crop in the next couple months, with expectations to be down a few hundred pounds compared to normal. However, if they don’t receive enough rain before planting season next spring, they could see a drastic drop in production.

The 2022 irrigation season will end Friday, October 7th.