With a few notable exceptions, Texas agricultural producers were gifted with spring rains and sunny days, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
Where soils were beginning to dry, the April showers bolstered moisture levels and encouraged flushes of grass and forbs in pastures and rangeland. Row crops and small grains benefited as well. The condition of livestock improved in response to better grazing, and many producers breathed easier as their hay supplies were all but exhausted.
East Texas was one of the exceptions to the rule, but there were exceptions to the exceptions. Many counties received scattered showers, but generally dry conditions and high winds did little to help thirsty warm-season grasses. Other counties received higher winds but their drying effects were generally alleviated by timely rains.
"Windy conditions lately are helping to dry out the soils," said Chad Gulley, AgriLife Extension agent in Nacogdoches County. "Storms pushed through over the weekend with many producers receiving only 0.2 inch of rain. Ryegrass and clover were growing well and many producers are beginning to prepare for their first cutting of hay this season."
The Panhandle and Southwest Texas regions were the other exceptions. The Panhandle not only got high winds along with severe storms, but tornadoes touched down in some counties.
"This week we have been in the center point of severe weather," said J.D. Ragland, AgriLife Extension agent in Randall County, south of Amarillo. "On Wednesday night, tornadoes were spotted in the northwest portion of Randall County. Homes were destroyed, windows broken out and crops were lost. It is hard to estimate at this time the total amount of crop loss."
Southwest Texas didn't have reports of tornadoes, but high winds with gusts up to 50 mph damaged some fields of vegetables and row crops. The winds knocked over a few center pivot systems and caused some lodging in small grains, according to AgriLife Extension agents there.
For the most part, farmers and ranchers had favorable weather in Far West Texas. However, winds have dried out some fields. Jesse Lea Schneider, AgriLife Extension agent in Presidio County, reported a lightening-strike wildfire sweeping across 2,125 acres.