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Drought could mean shorter season for the Victoria County Farmers Market

By ALLISON MILES
May 3, 2011 at 12:03 a.m.

Joe Flores takes advantage of bargain prices and fresh produce at the Victoria County Farmers Market, in  the parking lot of the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center on North Navarro Street.

If you go

The Victoria County Farmers Market is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 2805 N. Navarro St. For more information, call 361-582-6533.

From watering and weeding crops to clearing out the truck to load up, producers have done their part to prepare for the Victoria County Farmers Market.

But all the preparation in the world can't guard against Mother Nature.

If the area doesn't get rain soon, it might mean a short season for the farmers market.

Areas of the Crossroads rated at D3 and D4 - or extreme and exceptional drought - on the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday.

There is no one specific crop that is most affected by the lack of rain, said Sara Janak, president of the farmers market. Okra tends to require less moisture while green beans require more, she said, but every plant needs water.

"If we don't get that rain, really everything will suffer," she said.

Janak said producers plan to move forward with the market's spring season and hope that moisture makes its way to the Crossroads.

Victoria County has received just 4.55 inches of rain since Jan. 1, said Roger Gass, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi. The average rainfall total for this time of year is 9.44 inches.

"That's pretty much across the state," he said. "We're seeing similar circumstances all over."

Year-over-year, the change is even larger, Gass said, noting that in April 2010, Victoria was about 5 inches above the average.

He said that, while it appears some rain might possibly be in the region's future, conditions will remain dry for the next few months.

Producers can irrigate their crops, but it doesn't offer the same benefits of a good rain, said Noah Thompson, market manager for the farmers market. Irrigation only covers certain areas, he explained, while rainfall covers the entire crop.

Any moisture would be a welcome sight, Thompson said. "We need some rain real bad," he said. "It's hurting us."

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