In a year when it seems ag producers can’t catch a break, the vineyards in Terry County took yet another hit on Monday evening when the hail and rain roared through.
Hail reports were from pea sized to somewhere between golf ball and baseball sized. It didn’t hail for a long time, but where it did hail, it was damaging. As far as rainfall goes, it averaged about a half-inch across the county.
Reports from grape growers in the area indicate that the damage will be from moderate to severe. But, virtually all the vineyards sustained some damage.
Fortunately, it does not appear that many of the vines themselves were severely damaged, which is huge. If the cordon is damaged, that is a major hit. The cordon, or “arms”, of the grapevine extend from the trunk and are the part where additional arms and eventually leaves and grape clusters extend. The cordons are usually trained along wires as part of a trellis system. This is where the vines grow and fruit develops. If the cordon is severely damaged, they must be cut back to the trunk. You would miss a harvest.
The Phillips Vineyard, just off the Foster Road, just south of Brownfield, probably had the most damage of all the producers with whom we spoke. Madonna Phillips stated, “The grapes, at least in our vineyard, are a complete loss for this year. It is very disheartening.” She stated they were still monitoring for damage to the vines.
Ty Wilmeth of Diamonte Doble Dos stated they had some damage. “It was not terrible, but we can’t handle anymore bad weather. We were already down about 30% and this puts us about 50% down. The hail was big at Tokio.”
Andy Timmons of Lost Draw Vineyards stated, “It started right south of my office (on the Old Lamesa Road, south of Brownfield). It was terrible from there south, then over to the Phillips’ and up to the John Deere house (on Foster Road). It was bad out west too.”
Nick Seaton of Farmhouse Vineyards and Whitehouse Parker stated, “We got hit a bit on the south side of Parker, but from what I have seen from others, it could have been a lot worse.”
Nick did some looking around, as farmers will do, and stated, “The worst I have seen is south of Lost Draw over to Alta Loma (on Old Lamesa Road) over to the Phillips’ and on to Lepard Vineyards (also on Foster and closer in to town)
Alta Loma had substantial damage. “We lost probably 75% of our crop last night,” stated Gale Burran, co-owner of Alta Loma. But we do not think we have any cordon damage and that is huge. So they should be ready to produce next year. It is a huge blessing to not have cordon damage.”
Alta Loma was in the process of planting replacement vines for vines already lost, when the storm hit.
Overall, it looks like the area of the most damage was contained to the south and west of Brownfield.
Keep praying hard for these folks. After the freeze damage, this hail was not what was needed. Grape production in Terry County needs to stay at a high level each year in order to continue to be recognized as a leading producer of quality grapes.
As Madonna said, after surveying the damage, “We will have to really rely on our faith to see us through this.” Faith, after all, is the backbone of agriculture, no matter what you are growing.