Winter pasture across the state is “very short” due to lack of rainfall, Texas Cooperative Extension reports.
Overall, the wheat crop statewide “is looking a bit iffy right now” as to how it will fare heading into January, said Dr. Travis Miller, Extension agronomist.
“The recent rainfall did the (wheat) crop well in the San Angelo area and north and east across the Rolling Plains,” he said. “The Northern Panhandle missed it. There’s a big crop with a lot of wheat in the ground, but (with inconsistent stands) and poor emergence.”
East Texas was dry up until a few weeks ago, and cattle producers are feeding lots of hay due to lack of winter pasture, he said. However, there are good supplies of hay thanks to abundant rainfall during key hay-growing periods earlier this year.
Lack of wheat pasture has softened prices for lightweight calves that have “nowhere to go;” stocker-cattle buyers need these pastures to grow their animals out, Miller said.
“It’s tough on the cow-calf operators and feeder-cattle operators due to the lack of winter pasture and high feed grain prices,” Miller said.
The following condition reports are from Extension officials:
Panhandle: Moisture was reported in isolated areas. Soil moisture is very short to adequate with most areas reporting short to very short. Cotton and sorghum harvest continues. Wheat is very poor to excellent with most areas reporting fair. Range conditions are rated mostly fair. Abundant dry grass, lack of rainfall and high winds have created high fire danger potential. Cattle are in good condition. Supplemental feeding is under way in most areas.
South Plains: Colder temperatures reported with light moisture received. Producers have had to wait until noon before harvest can occur each day due to early morning moisture. Cotton and sorghum harvest is nearing completion. Winter wheat is in poor to fair condition. Some wheat planted in late September never emerged, and there is concern that light precipitation will sprout the seed, not allowing seedlings to take root. Pastures and ranges are in fair condition. Cattle are in mostly good condition, but colder conditions stressed livestock.
Rolling Plains: General rains, sleet or snow of 1.5 inches to 2 inches were reported. Ranchers are hoping to get enough moisture to replenish pastures and get wheat seed up. Some producers are considering planting oats where the wheat crop didn't make. Body condition of livestock has slipped as supplemental feeding moves into high gear. Stock tanks are beginning to run low on water.
North: Soil moisture is adequate to short. Winter pastures are slow to emerge. Winter grasses, mostly ryegrasses, are beginning to grow. Small grain planting is complete, and most all has emerged with the exception of a few late-planted fields. Livestock are reported in fair to good condition. Pecan harvest continues; sorghum and cotton harvest is winding down. Wheat is in fair to good condition. Harvest of sunflowers continues. Range and pastures range from fair to good condition.
East: Rains have helped winter-pasture forages and wildlife food plots. Some producers are planting winter pastures. Cattle producers are feeding hay and supplement. Cow-calf and bred-cow prices are strong with good demand. Plainer classes are hard to place with steady to lower prices. Rainfall has replenished low-water levels in stock tanks and ponds.
Far West: Soil moisture is very short to adequate. Range and pasture conditions are in very poor to good condition. Winter wheat is in fair to good condition. Oats are in poor to good condition. Two inches to 12 inches of snow fell across the region. Alfalfa and fall-planted onions are entering dormant stage.
West Central: Small grains are in need of moisture for continued growth and emergence. Range and pasture conditions continue to decline. Grazing is very short and supplemental feeding of livestock is increasing. Livestock remain in fair to good condition.
Central: Rainfall totals were 1 inch to 2 inches. This helped wheat, oats and fall forages. Pastures are getting short on grazing, but winter annuals are coming up. Supplemental feeding is under way for most livestock producers. Cattle are in good condition. The pecan harvest is nearly complete.
Southeast: Recent moisture was beneficial to winter annuals. Temperatures have been moderate, promoting growth. Livestock are in fair condition. Southwest: Dry conditions were reported with low subsoil moisture. Forage availability is below average and winter grasses have not sprouted as a result of the dry fall. Farmers are heavily irrigating winter vegetables. The peanut harvest is about complete. Cabbage and spinach harvest continues. Hunting continues to dominate ranching activities, especially during weekends.
Coastal Bend: Rain is needed for winter forages and to replenish the soil profile for spring crops. Farmers are making plans to fertilize fields. Hay is plentiful and is being sold at reasonable prices. Supplemental feeding of hay to livestock is on the increase although standing forage is still readily available in most areas.
South: Soil moisture is short. Fall vegetable crops are progressing well. In the mid-parts of the region, harvesting of vegetables continues with limited citrus harvesting. After a brief halt, harvesting of sugarcane has restarted in the area. In the western parts of the region, fall tomato harvesting has begun. Light rain slowed cabbage and spinach harvesting in the area, but the moisture received wasn’t enough to help dryland producers with distressed oat and wheat crops. Native range and pastures are mostly fair, but livestock producers are beginning to supplemental feed their cattle.