Farmers: Year’s first rain a start

By Sharna Johnson and Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

Sunday night’s gusty thunderstorm brought the area’s first rain of the year, according to the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, but area farmers said their crops still need more moisture.

Showers accompanying the brief storm, which hit around 6 p.m., dumped between a quarter and three-quarter inches of rain in Clovis and almost a half-inch in Portales, Meteorologist Jennifer Palucki said Monday.

Ricky Lockmiller, who farms northwest of Clovis, said his land received four-tenths of an inch.

“It’s a start,” he said.

Lockmiller estimated his fields would need 1 1/2 to 2 inches of rain over the next four to six weeks for a good harvest. He has irrigated his wheat, but for the dryland crops, he can do nothing but “wait for Mother Nature,” he said.

Sunday night’s rain is the first since Dec. 9, when there was a report of .03 inches.

The last time there was a comparable rain in Clovis was Oct. 15, when there was a half-inch of rain and an inch on Oct. 14 in Portales.

And the wind helped mark it as a severe storm, with gusts upward of 60 mph. One gust was measured at 63 mph.

“That’s definitely a severe storm, it was pretty quick hitting,” Palucki said.

Curry County Extension Agent Stan Jones said the rain was a nice start, but there’s a long way to go before it’s enough to tip the balance in the favor of agriculture.

“Rain’s always good, we just had lots of wind to dry it back out again,” he said laughing.

To date, this winter there has been no measurable snow and low rain totals, which could impact the growing season, he said.

“We got a long ways to go. We need some snow; we need that moisture with nitrogen that sits on the ground,” Jones said.

“We need moisture.”

Floyd-area farmer Houston Lee said his farm received a tenth of an inch of rain from the storm.

“Even with what rain we got, it did very little for improving the moisture,” he said.

The storm left half an inch of rain on land a half-mile away from Lee.

“It’s really not too significant, but it’s more,” he said of the half inch.

Lee is waiting to see what agriculture subsidies the government will offer this year, and he plans on farming to take the best advantage of them.

“We’re just waiting right now — waiting on moisture and waiting on the government to tell us how to try to farm this year,” he said.

Monday, early morning, gusts were measuring as high as 40 mph.

Tuesday is expected to be cloudy with a chance for more rain, maybe some snow through the night and into Wednesday, however, “if it did anything it wouldn’t be very much,” Palucki said.

Yearly rain totals

Clovis

2008 — 13.57

2007 — 16.71

2006 — 15.60

2005 — 17.00

2004 — 28.82

2003 — 12.81

2002 — 16.49

Portales

2008 — 12.55

2007 — 17.91

2006 — 18.81

2005 — 13.27

2004 — 27.38

2003 — 7.66

2002 — 16.39

Source: National Weather Service forecast office, Albuquerque

On the Web: www.srh.noaa.gov