Agriculture welcomes summer rains

William Thompson

The recent steady rainfall in the Tucumcari area which began late Friday evening and lasted until Saturday afternoon, was welcomed by Quay County farmers and ranchers.

Although some parts of the county received more rain than others, the rain was steady in and around Tucumcari.
Leonard Lariault, an agronomist for the NMSU Agriculture Science Center, said the amount of rainfall varied from as little as 3/4 of an inch up to well over two inches. “We only got 3/4 of an inch here at the Ag Science Center just three miles north of town, but I know ranchers nearby that received over two inches,” said Lariault. “That’s typical of the weather patterns in the area. I call the rains here ‘popcorn showers’ because of the non-uniform distribution of rainfall.”

Lariault described the type of rainfall last weekend as a “good rain.”
“It was a good, gentle, slow rain,” he said. “A lot of rain soaked into the ground. It’s better than getting a hard and fast rain that could damage crops. The rain last weekend was steady all over but varied in intensity at times in different areas.” Larry Perkins said his land located 18 miles southeast of Tucumcari saw over two inches of rain by Saturday afternoon. “It’s given my pasture land a big boost, and the recent rain could be a saving factor for my alfalfa crops,” said Perkins. “The kind of rain last weekend replenishes wells which in turn fill up stock tanks on ranches.”

Lariault said that according to traditional lore of area ranchers, the Caprock may be influential in the distribution of rainfall in the area. “The Lord only knows why one area gets more rain than another,” said Perkins, “but I’ve always been told that my grandfather and great grandfather, and other ranchers back then believed that wind currents coming off the Caprock distribute the rainfall in an uneven pattern throughout this part of Quay County.”

Yetta Bidegain, wife of rancher Phil Bidegain, said about three inches of rain fell on the family’s ranch land in Montoya while less rain fell on land closer to Tucumcari. “Naturally, we’re very happy about the rain,” said Bidegain. “The creeks are running and there should be some water in the stock tanks now.” Despite the rainfall, Lariault said eastern New Mexico’s drought is far from over. “What we really need is significant rainfall in the Conchas watershed area up around Wagon Mound, Springer and Raton,” said Lariault. “We need more water in Conchas Lake in order to irrigate. We are still not able to irrigate.”