After the drought

TitleAfter the drought
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1935
AuthorsCampbell R.S.
JournalThe American Cattle Producer
Date Published1935
Keywordsdrought, improve economy, increase stability, prevention, Southwest, tragedy
AbstractIn the Southwest, rainfall has been deficient ever since 1930; and, as a climax, 1934 was as dray as a lost caravan in the Gobi Desert. In southern New Mexico, the average annual rainfall is about 9 inches; but, in 1934, Jupiter Pluvius failed to function in customary fashion and furnished only a little over half the usual amount. For the first 9 months of 1934, rainfall in several southern New Mexico counties was less than 40 percent of the average, so that forage production on both summer and winter ranges was far below normal. This drought, one of the worst in Southwestern annals, caused severe cattle losses, complicated range management and necessitated emergency supplemental feeding, sacrifice sales, and forced shipments of cattle from the impoverished open range country. Government records show 1934 to be excelled only by the notable drought of 1903-04. What can be done to prevent the regular repetition of the tragedy of drought? Artificial rainmaking has invariably failed. Are there any practical methods of circumventing dry weather and its range-depleting effects? How can Southwestern cattlemen fortify their ranges against ultimate deterioration by both drought and overgrazing? What can be done to increase the stability and improve the economy of cattle grazing in the far-flung Southwest? Suggestions that may be helpful in planning for the future can be obtained by a careful screening of the results from the Jornada Experimental Range located near Las Cruces, New Mexico. Here the U.S. Forest Service has, among other things, studied the minimization of drought losses, the upbuilding of depleted ranges, the determination of grazing capacity, and various systems of grazing as related to range-cattle production.