May 14, 2008

Texas Crop, Weather

Western Rain Should Encourage Cotton Planting

By: Robert Burns, 903-834-6191  
COLLEGE STATION – Drought continued to plague some regions, while others received some relief with rain, report Texas AgriLife Extension Service agents from across the state.

In some areas, the rain was light, as in the Coastal Bend region. In the Rolling Plains , producers saw a slow, soaking rain.

"What a difference one week makes when it finally does start to rain," said J.D. Ragland, AgriLife Extension agent in Floyd County, near Lubbock.

And the timing could not have been better, Ragland said.

"Cotton producers were just getting geared up to get into full swing with cotton planting starting this week and next."

"With the receiving of 2 to 4 inches of rainfall this past week everyone will be planting cotton and sorghum furiously next week," said Kyle Kight, AgriLife Extension agent in Crosby County, east of Lubbock.

"Nacogdoches County received much needed rainfall this week, with some receiving 1.25 inches," said Chad Gulley, AgriLife Extension agent. "We could use more rainfall. High winds continue and are drying our soils out."

The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters this week:

CENTRAL: Coastal Bermuda grass fields were doing well, and winter grasses were providing good grazing. Stocker operators were shipping cattle. Cool, moist conditions caused problems for cotton producers, and many considered replanting. Producers were fertilizing but at reduced rates because of high nitrogen prices.

COASTAL BEND: The southern part of the region had little rainfall, but it did provide a little drought relief. Severe heat and winds continued to magnify the effects of the drought. Some crops have been filed as a total loss for crop insurance. The northern part of the region received more rainfall than the southern counties. Soybeans were blooming, and some corn was tasseling. Pastures were in fair to good condition. Pecan producers began to spray for casebearers.

EAST: Some rain was received, but windy conditions depleted moisture levels. In drier counties, producers waited to fertilize, but will do so at reduced rates because of the high cost of nitrogen. Winter pastures were cut in many areas. Although warm-season grasses began to green up, cooler nighttime temperatures slowed the rate of growth. Many producers were applying weed herbicides on pastures. Cattle conditions were good. There were some reports of diseases such as fire blight on ornamentals, trees and shrubs. Blueberries and blackberries were in very good condition.

FAR WEST: Conditions across the region were extremely dry. High winds accompanied from 0.1 to 1 inch of rain. Thunderstorms sparked wildfires. Range and pastures were in poor to very poor condition. Corn was in fair to good condition. Sorghum was in fair condition. Winter wheat was in very poor to good condition. Oats were in poor to good condition. Wine- grape production showed promise, having avoided the late season freeze two weeks ago. Pecan production and cotton planting were on schedule, with long green chiles, melons, corn, sunflowers and sorghum doing well.

NORTH: The soil moisture profile was in good shape. The weather conditions were mild to cool with some scattered showers. Cool nights slowed down summer forage growth. All crops were doing well. Wheat was headed and started to turn, with no reports of insect, disease or weather-related damage. The same holds true for oats. All corn was planted, emerged and progressed well. It was estimated that about 75 percent of grain sorghum and soybeans has been planted. Many ranchers started to bale early-season hay, and many are planting new Bermuda grass pastures. Hay yields were down dramatically this year at 2 and 2.25 tons per acre. Existing Bermuda grass stands are coming on a little late this year and need some warm temperatures. Having reserves, some producers may not bale hay this year due to high fuel and fertilizer prices. Ryegrass was nearly finished. Weeds were beginning to emerge, and producers have started praying. Range and pasture conditions were good. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Strawberries and peaches looked good.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were slightly above average until a cool front brought them back to normal. Most of the area received some much-needed rain. Rain amounts ranged from a trace to 3 inches with most of the Panhandle reporting 0.5 to 1.5 inches. Soil moisture was rated from short to adequate with most areas reporting very short. Corn planting was in full swing, with about 75 percent planted. Stands were rated fair to good. Wheat was rated very poor to good, with most areas reporting very poor. The rain came too late for many wheat fields. Some disease was reported in irrigated wheat. Range conditions were rated mostly poor. Cattle condition was rated fair to good.

ROLLING PLAINS: The district received a much-needed slow, soaking rain – nearly 4 inches in certain areas. Nighttime temperatures were cool. Wheat matured and began to turn color. Cotton farmers were preparing to plant. Peanut producers were nearly finished planting. Pastures looked good. Cattle were in good condition. Spring calving slowed, and calf working continued. Some producers were still trying to plant grass before it gets too late. Fly populations continued to increase in most cattle herds where control measures were not in place. There appeared to be a good fruit crop set in small orchards and home fruit trees.

SOUTH: The region's weather was mild with no precipitation, and soil moisture remained very short. Producers in the mid-parts of the region continued to irrigate corn, sugar cane, cotton and sorghum. Spring onion harvesting continued, and the citrus harvest was completed. The melon, cabbage and wheat harvests continued, and sorghum was heading. Livestock producers were anxiously awaiting rainfall for their native range and pastures as they were still forced to provide supplemental feed.

SOUTH PLAINS: From 1 to 5 inches rain came May 6-7, which should permit planting. Some early planted corn began to emerge. Only a few cotton fields were planted prior to the rain events. Winter wheat was in poor to fair condition, but was expected to respond well to the rain, as were pastures and range. Cattle were in good condition and continue to be supplemented.

SOUTHEAST: Rainfall varied from 2 to 6 inches, with little runoff. Some producers began baling hay to clean up pastures for summer growth.

SOUTHWEST: The region remained dry with only insignificant rain showers at isolated locations. The year-to-date rainfall total is1.06 inches at Uvalde, compared to a long-term average of nearly 8 inches. Record high temperatures and dry winds are aggravating the drought. Forage availability remained below average, forcing deer to browse in irrigated fields and home landscapes. Corn, sorghum, spring vegetables, sunflowers and cotton made good progress under irrigation. Dryland small grains have failed due to the drought. The cabbage and carrot harvest was almost finished. The potato, onion and pickling cucumber harvest slowly gained momentum. Pecans, sod, grapes, cantaloupes and watermelons made good progress under heavy irrigation.

WEST CENTRAL: Light scattered showers fell mid-week, with an accumulation from 0.2 to 0.5 inches. With warmer weather, the showers caused spring and summer grasses to start growing. Livestock were in good shape with very little supplemental feeding. Coke County reported very few fields of wheat harvested, some for seed. Most wheat and oats were being grazed out and some baled. Mason County reported light freeze damage to oats. Forage was fair at best, and high fuel prices made harvesting hay too costly. San Saba reported the pecan crop showed more promise than earlier expected.

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