As the old saying goes, "When it rains it pours."
After a series of stalk destruction extensions approved in recent weeks for Pest Management Zone 3, continuing wet weather that has prevented access to many fields across the mid- to upper regions of the Texas coast has prompted the Chair of the Cotton Producer Advisory Committee (CPAC) of the Zone to ask for an additional delay.
Over the last week alone 2 to 5 inches of additional rain has fallen across broad areas of the Texas coast from Galveston on the upper coast to as far south as the Rio Grande Valley. The recent rains resulted from an arctic front that streamed across the state and collided with an influx of warm Gulf moisture, kicking off numerous thunderstorms and moderate to heavy rains in many areas including Austin, Brazoria, Fort Bend, Chambers, Colorado, Fayette, Galveston, Gonzales, Harris, Jefferson, Lavaca, Liberty, Orange, Waller, and Washington counties, which make up the whole of CPAC Zone 3.
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Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches fell across the Zone over the last several days, adding to the 10 to 25 inches of rain reported since early July. While farmers in the Zone and across most adjacent coastal areas say heavy rains have been an improvement over drought conditions that have persisted over the last three years, they were untimely and problematic as well, causing harvest delays, interfering with stalk destruction efforts and prompting coastal flood warnings that stretched as far south as Kleberg County in the lower Coastal Bend.
CPAC officials in Zone 3 noted in their latest request that no progress has been made in stalk destruction since the last delay was approved. National Weather Service records confirm heavy rainfalls in the Zone over the last 30 days totaled 150 percent to 200 percent above normal and 200 percent to 300 percent of normal rainfall being recorded for the hardest hit areas within the region.
Section 20.22 of the Texas Administrative Code provides that the Texas Department of Agriculture may grant a blanket extension of the destruction deadline covering an entire cotton stalk destruction zone or a portion of an entire zone under certain circumstances.
Multiple stalk destruction delays for the Zone were previously approved by TDA including the first on Sept, 25. On Oct. 10, the destruction deadline for all of Zone 3.1, Zone 3.2 and Zone 3.3 was extended until October 15 for the 2013 crop year only. On Oct. 29 the destruction deadline for all of Zone 3.1, Zone 3.2 and Zone 3.3 was extended again until November 12 because of heavy rains. The latest delay was requested on Oct. 12, and that resulted in the deadline being moved for all areas in the Zone to Nov. 26, 2013, for the 2013 crop year only.
Zone officials for CPAC say persistent rain continues to limit accessibility to fields and resulted in this latest extension. Officials at the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation (TBWEF) concurred with CPAC officials and TDA approved all extensions affecting all areas within the Zone.
Pest Management Zone 3 (Zone 3) consists of three areas:
- Area 1 includes Jackson and Matagorda counties and that portion of Wharton County west of the Colorado River. The standard deadline for cotton stalk destruction in Zone 3, Area 1 is October 1.
- Area 2 includes Austin, Brazoria, and Fort Bend counties and that portion of Wharton County east of the Colorado River. The standard deadline for cotton stalk destruction in Zone 3 Area 2 is October 15.
- Area 3 includes Chambers, Colorado, Fayette, Galveston, Gonzales, Harris, Jefferson, Lavaca, Liberty, Orange, Waller, and Washington counties. The standard deadline for cotton stalk destruction in Zone 3 Area 3 is October 20.
Heavy rains since July have contributed to a downgrading of the State Drought Monitor for the region. The Texas Drought Monitor rated drought conditions in much of the Upper Coastal Bend and Southeast Texas as severe to extreme throughout most of the summer growing season. As a result of substantial rains since early July, the latest drought monitor released Nov. 19, indicates conditions have improved to abnormally dry in the Upper Coastal Bend with virtually no drought conditions for Southeast Texas.