Years of drought forcing farmers to make changes to water crops in Gillespie County

GILLESPIE COUNTY, Texas – Farmers in Gillespie County are dealing with a slow rain start to the year and seeing less than half the average rainfall they usually get.

Travis Jenschke, a sixth-generation land owner, remembers experiencing sporadic summer rainfalls but says that hasn’t happened in years.

Jenschke turns to his small notepad, where he writes down the monthly and annual rain totals.

“Last year, we had 15.85 (inches) all year round,” he said, looking at his count.

That’s less than the 30-inch annual average Gillespie County is used to getting. That’s why his family at Jenschke Orchards is looking at other options for securing rainwater.

They are working on a pond to hold rainwater from a nearby hill. They’re also investing in some water wells. Lindsey Jenschke says nothing beats rainwater for their orchards.

“Rainwater is the gift of life. It just makes everything flourish,” she said.

To their surprise, last year’s drought brought a different flavor to their peaches.

“The silver lining was smaller peaches because of the lack of rain. But they were the sweetest peaches we’ve ever grown because the sugar content was high,” Lindsey Jenschke said.

The farmers are looking toward April for some showers to set them on a good course for the summer.

Their pick-your-own strawberries will open in April, followed by the blackberry crop in May, and the peaches should be ready in the summer.

Travis Jenschke said his rain notepad reminds him to stay optimistic.

“It makes me feel good to know that very few months go by without at least some kind of moisture,” he said.

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