A few areas in Texas have received rain over the past few weeks, with the northeast corner of the state apparently the “garden spot,” according to Jim Swart, Texas AgriLife Extension integrated pest management specialist, who works out of Commerce.
But every county in the state remains under drought conditions, and some areas are literally drying up.
Farmers in the Texas South Plains report they have had no appreciable rainfall since last summer. Many say the last good rain they received was in early July. Others report some rain as late as October, and some say they’ve had no more than trace amounts all winter.
Manda Anderson, Texas AgriLife Extension IPM agent for Gaines County, says many area farmers are nearly a year removed from their last good rain. “We have not received any significant rainfall since July of last year,” she says.
Even with poor growing conditions, farmers need to be vigilant, she says. “Most of the peanuts have been planted and have emerged. Growers are still busy planting cotton. Cotton stages range from just planted to the one true-leaf stage. As plants are emerging growers need to be scouting fields for thrips and other early season insect pests.”
Some South Texas farmers received rain over the past few days but not enough to alter conditions dramatically. Clyde Crumley, Extension IPM agent for the Upper Coast, says conditions in his region have not changed much for the past few weeks.
“This unrelenting drought continues to plague us,” he says. “The area’s crops are suffering under this ongoing drought, and we are in desperate need of rain. Blooming cotton is being found across the area; however, most of the crop is still at the one-third grown square stage.”
He says cotton is short on water and will have fewer nodes above the white flower. “It will go into cutout sooner unless fields receive moisture soon.
“With most of the cotton in the IPM program in the one-third grown square stage to first flower stage, we are monitoring for bollworms, fleahoppers, aphids and verde plant bugs. Aphid populations have increased markedly in many cotton fields, particularly where multiple sprayings have taken place.”
He says a noticeable increase in egg laying activity by bollworm moths in Jackson and Wharton Counties occurred early in the week of May 23. “However, few live worms have been observed. Beneficial insect numbers in cotton are moderate to high with lady beetle adults, big-eyed bugs, minute pirate bugs, green lacewing eggs, and damsel bugs.
“As the area grain sorghum is beginning to flower we need to be looking for sorghum midgein the heads.”
Roy Parker, ExtensionEntomologistat the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Corpus Christi, says rainfall ranging from 1 to 3 inches in mid-May helped sorghum and cotton.
“Even with that, many of the cotton fields in the Corpus Christi area were at 6 nodes above white flower and have not improved that position since the rain. We expect much of the cotton to move to cut-out (5 nodes above first position white flower) by the end of this week. Another noticeable indication of cut-out is the presence of larger squares in the tops of plants.
“Plants have a heavy fruit load but may not have enough leaf surface or soil moisture to hold all the fruit currently on the plants. Cloudy conditions last week hampered plant growth. Another rain event would sure help the situation.”
Parker says sorghum in the Lower Coastal Bend “looks surprisingly good but is sure not a bumper crop. We attribute the good sorghum heads to a generally good soil profile moisture level to begin the season. Even corn looks fair in some areas, but we are not expecting anything other than a fair corn crop.”
Recent comments from farmers in the Northeast corner of the state indicate potential for a decent wheat crop and a good start with corn and grain sorghum stands. Growers indicate that rainfall has been adequate to keep wheat from drought stress and to germinate corn and grain sorghum and promote early growth.
In Oklahoma, Randy Boman, research director and cotton extension program leader at the Oklahoma State University Southwest Research and Extension Center in Altus, says rainfall last week helped but conditions remain “dire.”
“We had some rainfall last Thursday night that helped a lot of folks,” Boman says. “The area south of Altus only got about 1.3 inches or so and with al the wind and heat we are still in dire straits in some areas. However, other areas received 2 to 5 inches.
“I feel much better about the situation now than I did a week ago. We planted some replicated small plot trials at the Altus Center Monday, but since the moisture didn’t meet in the profile it will take more rain.”