East Texas hay producers have benefited from spring and mid-summer rainfall, but other areas of the state may struggle to find adequate forage for livestock.
“We’ve been blessed with rainfall during our spring and even during the mid-summer in East Texas,” said Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson, Texas AgriLife Extension forage specialist, Overton. “So hay production in the eastern part of the state has been higher than other areas.”
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Though the rest of the state has received some rain, drought conditions persist, which has limited hay production in much of the state, Corriher-Olson said.
“Part of Central Texas, around Waco and along the I-35 corridor, did receive some rainfall, but not as much as we have had in East Texas, and probably did not provide much improvement in hay production,” she said.
West Central Texas also received some good rains in late May and early June, which helped hay production, but the area remains under moderate to severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Rainfall has offered challenges to East Texas hay producers. Hay production hasn’t been as good as it might have been because of the frequent rains, Corriher-Olson noted. Mid-summer is usually a drier time for East Texas, which is conducive to curing and harvesting hay. But frequent rains have made it a challenge in some areas to get the hay in.
She also said she hasn’t seen much hay moving out of East Texas or out of the state.
“Some are rebuilding their stocks, and many have pastures that are still recovering from the drought of 2011 and subsequent droughts,” Corriher-Olson said.
With pastures still in recovery, livestock producers will need hay to make up for lack of grazing.
She also noted that with the chances of a moderately strong El Niño this fall, the prospects for winter pasture are better than they have been in years. A strong El Niño usually means a wetter late fall and winter for all of the Southwest and Southeast U.S.
“This presents us with an excellent chance to reduce costs and preserve hay stocks, not just in East Texas but in Central Texas and other areas too,” she said.
Corriher-Olson will be conducting a training, “Winter Pastures for Central and East Texas,” Aug. 12, at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton. For more information on the training, go to http://today.agrilife.org/?p=41113.
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/.