STONEWALL, Texas (KXAN) - The drought of 2011 inflicted $7.6 billion in losses to the Texas agriculture industry, making it the costliest drought in the state's history.
The effects of last year's extreme heat and drought are still lingering. Agricultural losses reached 7.6 billion dollars in 2011, making it the costliest drought in history.
This year, drive through the Hill Country town of Stonewall and you'll see rows and rows of sunflowers growing in a field that used to grow corn.
Fifth-generation farmer, Keith Lindig, says he has to look past the next wet period to the next drought and plan ahead.
"Last year left a bad taste in most peoples' mouths and we were kind of apprehensive as to what the future was going to bring," said Keith Lindig, Gillespie county farmer. "We were looking for alternative crops and stuff to plant."
Corn uses a lot of water so Lindig didn't plant it at all in 2011. His sunflowers this year will be harvested for oil. He says things are looking up.
"The first nine months of last year we had a little less than five inches of rain and in January until now we've have right at 16," said Lindig.
Fields that were nothing but dirt last year are growing grain sorghum this time around. But, the rain also brings other battles. Deer are encroaching on the fields.
Lindig also says there's still a long way to go to recover from the drought.
"Hay is still extremely short," said Lindig. "Cuttings have been down. The fields look good. They're green in color and moisture has been helping, but production is down, only making two bales an acre when we ought to be making four."
Lindig has a leg up, though, from changes to the family farm he's made over the past few years. KXAN interviewed him during the drought of 2011 about his land management practices. Those practices are now paying off.
By keeping the grass long last summer, the soil didn't dry out and heat up as quickly. Lindig's property rebounded much faster than his neighbor's.
After selling off two thirds of his cattle herd, there'll be hay but fewer cattle to feed it to this year. The foundation and supports are up on a new barn to store extra hay. The goal is to finish it in the fall.
"I think I told you last year you just have to have faith and you take care of the land and it'll take care of you," said Lindig. "And that's still my motto." .
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