The weather system that brought heavy rains to the Houston area managed to soak some parched, southern counties of the state. But it fizzled out before providing any drought relief to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, according to experts with Texas Cooperative Extension.
"Some areas of the Valley, including Starr County, are so dry they look like they're in the middle of wintertime in a bad year," said Dr. Ruben Saldana, Extension district administrator in Weslaco.
Areas that received much-needed rainfall include Brooks, Jim Wells, Kleberg and Kennedy counties, but little or nothing fell in the agriculturally rich, four-county area of the Valley.
"Benefits from what did fall will be short-lived, especially to range and pastures, many of which are in Dust Bowl-like conditions," Saldana said. "We're in the middle of our rainy season, with a good bulk of our annual rainfall usually coming in May, then again in September. Let's hope September is better than May was."
PANHANDLE: Hot, dry and windy described the Texas Panhandle for the week. Temperatures were above normal all week. Very isolated thunderstorms brought little rain and some hail. Wind speeds were very high several days this week. Soil moisture is rated short to very short. Corn is rated poor to good with most areas reporting fair. Farmers are irrigating heavily. Spider mites continue to be a problem in edges of many fields. Miticides are being applied to edges of a few fields. Cotton is rated poor to good with most areas reporting fair to good. Thrips continue to be a problem in many fields. Hail caused some stand loss in isolated areas, particularly in the southern portion.
SOUTH PLAINS: Weather conditions continue to be hot, dry and windy with some clouds forming each day, but no rain has fallen. A soaking rain is needed by all rangeland and crops, especially dryland cotton, sorghum and sunflowers. Dryland cotton is in very poor condition where plants did have enough moisture to germinate. Irrigated cotton is growing well with about 35 percent of the crop squaring. About 40 percent of peanuts are pegging. Grain sorghum is 90 percent planted and wheat harvest is 85 percent complete with light test weights and below-average yields being reported across the South Plains. Cattle conditions are mostly good, but a good general rainfall is needed to recharge tanks and sustain grazing potential on native and improved pastures.
ROLLING PLAINS: Hot, dry conditions continue across the Rolling Plains. Dryland cotton and sudan are in serious danger unless there is a beneficial rain soon. Irrigated producers are watering crops and using valuable water and expensive fuel. In a normal year they generally do not start watering until late June or early July. Some dryland cotton producers have elected not to plant until they have enough moisture, but these producers are up against a June 20 planting deadline. Cattle herds have been reduced as grazing gets short and cattle prices have continued to be good. Many are selling and keeping a few. Peach crop is 10 percent to 20 percent of normal at best, due to last year's drought, lack of chilling and a late freeze.
NORTH: Soil moisture is very short to short with very hot and dry conditions prevailing. Crop and pasture conditions are critical with the lack of moisture. Corn, sorghum, soybeans and cotton need rain, and for some crops it may already be too late. Corn is going through pollination, with growing conditions not favorable. Outlook for good pollination is dim. Ten percent to 100 percent of soybeans have bloomed, while sorghum is 50 percent to 100 percent headed. Wheat harvest is almost completed. Peach harvest is in full swing.
EAST: Drought conditions worsened. It is hot and very dry. Hay production is less than 50 percent of normal for this time of year. Range and pasture conditions are worsening. Grasshopper infestations has been reported. Some producers are feeding hay, if it is available. Hay prices are very high. Large numbers of cattle being sold with prices down from previous weeks but about normal for this time of year. Quality calves are still in demand. There have been reports of producers liquidating pastures and herds because of drought. The corn crop in Anderson County has been lost to drought. Cotton is beginning to show drought stress, as well as pressure from weevils, aphids and spider mites. Watermelon production in full swing with good prices and yields.
FAR WEST: Soil moisture ranges from very short to adequate, and crops and pastures are in very poor to fair condition. Cotton is in fair to good condition. Sunflowers are up to 15 percent planted. Winter wheat is in very poor to poor condition and as much as 90 percent of grain has been harvested. Sorghum is as much as 40 percent planted. Oats are in fair to good condition. Conditions are hot and dry, with triple-digit temperatures reported. Pasture conditions are deteriorating due to lack of rain. Supplemental feeding of livestock is becoming necessary.
WEST CENTRAL: Extremely hot, dry conditions prevail. Temperatures remain in the upper 90s F to 100s F. Fire dangers are increasing. Lack of moisture has stopped most producers from working their fields. Cotton, hay crops and small grains continue to suffer from drought. Some wheat and oat crops have been baled and not harvested. Testing for prussic acid is ongoing due to stress conditions. All corn crops are being irrigated. Range and pastures are showing severe stress and continue to decline rapidly. Summer grasses are wilting. Producers are being forced to wean calves earlier and are culling livestock. Livestock conditions remain steady. The hay supply shortage is critical.
CENTRAL: Soil moisture ranges from short to very short. Hot and dry conditions continue. The first cutting hay yields are one-half to one-third of normal. Pastures are drying out quickly, and stock tank levels are dropping. Some soybeans are being baled, and corn is being cut for silage. Pecans need rain or irrigation.
SOUTHEAST: Rain late in the week provided some relief to hot temperatures, and helped the growth of fertilized pastures. Conditions are still dry. Cow marketing is unusually high this week due to dry conditions. Cattle grazing in pastures is non-existent, and few producers are cutting hay. Calves are being weaned from cows and marketed earlier due to the drought conditions. The pecan crop is in jeopardy also, and few peaches are being harvested. Large numbers of grasshoppers are eating whatever is left. Cattle are in poor shape with the drought conditions.
SOUTHWEST: Sporadic isolated showers deposited 0.1 to more than 1 inch of much-needed rainfall over the weekend. Unfortunately only about half of Southwest Texas received the rain. The rain helped settle dust which, along with high dry winds, was starting to form dust storms. The region, however, remains very dry. Generally, the region has only received about 25 percent of the long-term year-to-date average rainfall. The October 13-to-date period is the driest in over 100 years of records with only about 3.2 inches of rain, compared to a long-term average of about 15.3 inches for the same period. The Edward's Aquifer authority is getting close to instituting water rationing restrictions over a seven-county region of Edward's Aquifer. Cotton and peanuts are making excellent progress under heavy irrigations. Pecan trees are showing stress and may start to drop immature pecans soon. The harvest of a bumper crop of onions continues.
COASTAL BEND: Extreme drought and heat continues. Some grain sorghum and soybeans are being planted in failed acres. Some corn is being cut down for hay since it failed to produce due to the drought. Rain that occurred two weeks ago has improved pasture conditions, but most locations are again showing signs of moisture stress.
SOUTH: Short to very short soil moisture conditions throughout most of the region continue. Crops in irrigated land have been fair to good, but those in drylands have been poor. Harvest of grain sorghum and corn is under way. Cotton is making progress in irrigated fields. Late planting of sorghum is ongoing now that moisture has been received in those areas. The west side of the region received 5 to 12 inches of rain, which benefited some late-planted cotton but was much too late to salvage sorghum. Rainfall in some areas has improved rangeland a bit.