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Crops and cattle on the minds of many this winter storm

Posted at 6:42 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 21:09:11-05

BRAZOS COUNTY, TEXAS — Outside of our own safety here in Texas, cattle and crops are also on the minds of many whose livelihoods depend on their health, and their byproducts.

Scarmardo Cattle has been in business for nearly 45 years in the Brazos Valley, and Pete says, talking cattle is how he makes a living and the cold isn't stopping it. This ranch in Caldwell is playing it safe.

"This is the first time that I've been in business, that I have had to deal with this frigid of temperatures with the cold," Pete Scarmardo, the Owner of Scarmardo Cattle Company said.

Scarmardo says, trying to plan for this type of climate is a chore itself, and they prep as much as they can to get ahead of it, but you never really know what to expect.

"Putting out extra feed. Trying to make sure you winterize all of your water wells and your facilities to water your cattle, but whenever we get this extreme of temperatures there is always something that's going to happen that you didn't count on," Scarmardo added.

Scarmardo says, from Texas to Nebraska, they have tens of thousands of livestock animals to look out for, so for them, Texas isn't the only state they are worried about, but they do hope this Arctic blast will pass, so they can get back to work.

"Well, we just try to take it day by day and try to do the best we can and handle the cattle. We are supposed to get back to the 60s by the end of this week into the first of next week. Hopefully, winter is behind us and the ground will warm back up and all of our grass will start growing, and we can put this behind us," Scarmardo added.

As far as crops go, Dr. Larry Stein, an Associate Department Head, Professor and Extension Horticulturist with Texas A&M's AgriLife Extension Service says cold crops are in the ground now, which include cabbage, spinach, kale, and onions and says the moisture and cold benefits some of the crops harvested at this time, but not so much for others.

"Spinach is very cold-hardy, so the cold is not so big deal, but if we had sleet, it can blemish the spinach, fresh-market wise. So the cold not so much, but the blemishes from the ice," Dr. Stein said. "Fruit trees are starting to bloom, so that's a challenge. There are some that had already bloomed out, so they will lose their crop. Others, probably this late bit of cold is still helpful, as far as the chill goes. Overall it's kind of a mixed bag, it's good and bad," Dr. Stein said.

Dr. Stein says, it's been 30 years since this climate has been on his mind like this, and says, it's too early to tell what losses some farmers may face in relation to their cold crops, after the Arctic blast weather of this week.