Reporter's Picks: The A-J's top 8 agriculture & environment stories of 2022

Agriculture and Natural Resources Reporter Brandi D. Addison picks her favorite stories of the year.

Reporter's Picks: The A-J's top 8 agriculture & environment stories of 2022

Howdy, y'all!I'm Brandi D. Addison, the regional agriculture and natural resources reporter for the USA TODAY network in West Texas, covering all things from the earth to the sky. And this week's round-up features my favorite stories I wrote from this year.Although my portfolio of works isn't large in quantity (because I moved back to the South Plains and joined the newsroom in June), there are a lot of stories I'm proud to share.Mr.

Cowboy CultureRodeo legend Alvin Davis died at age 94, leaving behind an impeccable legacy on both the cowboy community and West Texas.Over the years, halls of fame, ranching institutions and leaders in his many areas of interest praised Davis for his contributions to ranching, rodeo and the cowboy culture.His hard-worked efforts earned him the opportunity to become the first inductee to the Texas Tech Rodeo Hall of Fame and an inductee of the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame, which honors individuals 'dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the Texas rodeo cowboy, while also promoting the future of rodeo in Texas and beyond. 'He was also named into the 4-H Hall of Fame in 2010.Read the story:"Mr. Cowboy Culture": Rodeo, ranching legend Alvin Davis praised for impact on West TexasThe final auctionIt was evident by the auctioneer's confident composure that it wasn't his first rodeo. But Saturday was still a key moment in Lance Folsom's career rendering his final time to call an auction on the Lubbock Stockyards grounds..

two-hundred ... three-hundred," Folsom said with a booming voice between bouts of rapid sputters that presumably no one in the crowded audience could decipher. ": Lubbock Stockyards hosts last auction, closes after 54 yearsWhere did all the butterflies go?The monarch migration has landed in Texas ... but wait, is this all of them? Where did all the butterflies go?For many of those who can remember back several decades, the monarchs' semiannual grand appearances have become far less impressive in recent years.Before their decline between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, Texans could expect to see somewhere between dozens and hundreds of vibrant butterflies floating the area on any given fall day.

Now, wildlife experts are concerned the very existence of the species is at stake.Although an exact number isn't confirmed, expert opinions range between a 30% to 90% decline since the 1990s. 'They're not endangered yet (according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service),' said Russell Martin with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 'They're a candidate species, which is their way of saying, 'Hey, we acknowledge they're in trouble, but we don't have the resources to make the full listing decision at the time. ''Read the story:Butterflies in plight: Monarch migration is in Texas.

But wait, is this all of them?SkyGardens flower farmJust inside the Hockley County border is a colorful flower farm standing out among the uniform shades of cotton fields that surround the property as far as the eye can see.Roughly halfway between downtown Levelland and the small 500 population town of Ropesville, SkyGardens sits off a narrow gravel road about a mile west of FM 1585..

Statue-sized pumpkins adorn the parking lots of the local grocery store, car wash and hardware shop. And large banners and signs around the city proudly tout Floydada's biggest accomplishment: Recognition as the 'Pumpkin Capital of the US. 'Read the story:Growing the 'Gourd' Standard: Floydada festival celebrates High Plains pumpkin greatnessColumn: Why Texas agriculture mattersNot to the state the obvious here, but Texas is big -- and it has a lot of farmland. In fact, it has more farmland than any other state in the U.S., accounting for approximately 126 million acres last year, according to the U.S.

Department of Agriculture's statistical services division.Data shows that Texas is also the largest supplier of beef cattle in the U.S. (which is the global leader in beef production). And while unrelated to these statistics, it'd be amiss to not acknowledge that a Texan -- Aven Horn, 16, of Anson -- sold her grand champion steer at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo for a record-breaking $1 million earlier this year.Texas is also a top producer in sheep, goats and horses and is a top-five competitor in both dairy and egg production.

It fell just short in poultry production, though landed at a still-admirable No. 6.With three major markets in the state, Texas is also a leader in the nation's cotton industry; West Texas alone accounts for 3 to 6% of the global cotton supply in any given year. And West Texas is also home to the Pumpkin Capital of the U.S.

-- Floydada -- which primarily specializes in the popular Halloween jack o'lantern-style gourd.Plus, only behind California and Florida, Texas is also one of the nation's largest suppliers in orange and grapefruit production.Among the other dozens of commodities that Texas farmers harvested last year (each of which have various species): Hay, corn, sorghum, wheat, peanuts, rice, potatoes, pecans, melons, soybeans, cabbage, sunflower, spinach, oats, cucumbers, mushrooms, sugarcane, foliage and cut flowers.Read the column:Addison: Future of Rural Texas symposium reinforces why Texas agriculture mattersBrandi D. Addison, the regional agriculture and natural resources reporter for the USA TODAY network in West Texas. Find her on Twitter or send her an email.