Effects of Drought on Crop Production and Cropping Areas in Texas

Document Type

Letter to the Editor

Publication Title

Agricultural and Environmental Letters


Core Ideas: Drought causes significant yield reductions both for rainfed and irrigated crops. Drought can have impact on cropping areas and crop yield. Changing crop types can be used to cope with drought challenges during drought periods. Increased crop yield is required to meet the needs of future population growth, but drought causes significant yield reductions for rainfed and irrigated crops. This study evaluates the impact of drought on crop yield and cropping area over 10 climate zones in Texas from 2008 to 2016. It also depicts the spatiotemporal distribution of crop yield and cropping area changes at each climate zone across the state. We analyzed the impact of drought on crop yields and cropping areas before and after the 2011 severe drought using annual crop yields of four major crops. Results show that drought had a greater impact on winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and corn (Zea mays L.) and lesser impact on cotton (Gossypium spp.) and sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] production across Texas. Cotton and corn hectarages were reduced during the drought period and increased after that, whereas winter wheat hectarage was reduced in the northern climate zones and increased in the southern climate zones before the drought. Results also indicate that drought impact on crop production may be reduced by replacing water-demanding crops such as corn with drought-tolerant crops such as sorghum and expanding irrigation hectarage during drought periods. It may be beneficial for Texas agricultural production to increase the hectarage of sorghum and other grains especially during drought periods. This study provides valuable information that can be used to adopt appropriate measures to cope with future drought challenges in drought-prone regions.

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