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Report: Crop losses in Texas top $5 billion

By Ed Payne, CNN
Texas officials estimate $5.2 million in agricultural losses from the drought.
Texas officials estimate $5.2 million in agricultural losses from the drought.
  • Livestock takes the biggest hit, with losses of nearly $2.1 billion.
  • A La Nina pattern turns off the "rainfall switch" for most of Texas, official says
  • More than 90% of Texas suffers from "extreme" or "exceptional" drought conditions
  • Texas is under an unprecedented drought, the National Drought Summary says

(CNN) -- With Texas scorched by a blistering hot summer and parched by a 10-month drought, state agriculture officials are counting a record $5.2 billion in commodity losses, according to Texas A&M agriculture economists.

"The drought of 2011 will have a lasting impact on Texas agriculture," said Travis Miller with the university's AgriLife Extension Service and a member of the Governor's Drought Preparedness Council.

Livestock took the biggest hit, with producers losing nearly $2.1 billion. Next was cotton, with producers losing $1.8 billion. Other commodities hurt by the drought were hay, corn, wheat and sorghum, the agriculture economists said.

The estimates released Wednesday do not include losses to fruit and vegetable producers, horticultural and nursery crops, or other grain and row crops.

The drought began for much of the state nearly a year ago in September, according to Miller.

Heat wave causes shortage in horse hay
  • Drought
  • Texas

"An unusually strong La Nina pattern moved into place in the fall of 2010, which had an impact comparable to turning off the 'rainfall switch' for most of Texas and surrounding states," he said.

Texas is the worst-hit of several states in a band of severe drought that stretches from Arizona to sections of the East Coast. More than 90% of the state is suffering from "extreme" or "exceptional" drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

"Texas continues to suffer from unprecedented drought," the University of Nebraska at Lincoln said in a drought report. "Climate data show that the Lone Star State is in its driest ten-month period ever on record, in over a century of data."

Todd Staples, the state's agriculture commissioner, commented on the drought.

"While these numbers paint a gloomy picture, Texans are survivors," Staples said. "Our farmers and ranchers will adapt and overcome this record-setting drought to ensure we have a safe, affordable and reliable domestic food supply."

CNN's Maggie Schneider contributed to this report