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Some mostly light showers will continue tonight into Saturday morning ahead of a strong upper level disturbance which will bring us widespread heavy thunderstorms late Saturday into early Sunday morning. Drier air will take over Sunday with cooler temperatures next week.
Rain helps Southeast Texas rice farmers
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet
This week's stormy weather isn't just helping your garden grow, it's also helping rice farmers. There are 32,000 acres of rice in Jefferson, Chambers and Liberty County and Southeast Texas has been dryer than usual this year. Farmers say, this rain is a big help.
Mike Doguet owns Doguet's Rice and acres of rice fields. He says it's been a dry year for farmers.
"A lot of times in this area I'm not real happy because we get too much rain, but this year I was definitely excited to get rain becasue we needed it," said Doguet.
As long as it's not too much rain.
"If you get too much rain and it stays cloudy for a long time, then you can get a lot of disease in the crop. So, I know there are a lot of farmers out right now scouting their fields," said Doguet.
However Doguet thinks this week's rains will help not hurt the crop.
"I think as long as it comes an inch or two a day we're alright for three or four days," said Doguet. "And it's supposed to clear up next week so that will be fine."
It takes about 39 inches of water to grow rice, so every inch of rain that falls means less water rice farmers have to purchase and less water the Lower Neches Valley Authority has to pump in for irrigation.
"Now with the Lower Neches [Valley] Authority, we're actually metered for our water," said Doguet. "So, every gallon you put in that field you have to pay for. So, rain does save you money, so rice farmers are happy to get rain as long as it doesn't continue on for weeks at a time."
"In general, we're pulling 200 to 300 million gallons a day, every day," said Scott Hall, the general manager of the Lower Neches Valley Authority, "and this peak time of the year irrigation wise, we've gotten up to 800 million gallons a day. We can pump over a billion gallons a day."
Hall says this week's rains will help reduce the need for irrigation.
"Jefferson County and right along the coast has been very dry this year," said Hall. "So, anywhere from two inches in the upper county, to half an inch, to an inch along the coast will be some drought relief."
Drought relief that has farmers smiling.
"Thank God for the rain and it does look like a very good rice crop," said Doguet.
Although Jefferson County is in a moderate drought, Hall says Southeast Texas's water supply is fine and Sam Rayburn Reservoir is full.
"We're actually at a full pool at Rayburn, it hasn't been that way in five years," said Hall. "So, water supply wise we're in great shape."