Mild, warm conditions promote harvesting

Mother Nature served up mild, warmer weather with a little rain on the side to some Texas customers, a recipe that promoted the harvesting of cotton and other crops, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

In Mitchell County and other areas of the Rolling Plains, the favorable weather meant gins were being fed a steady helping of cotton modules, said John Senter, AgriLife Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.

The harvest is not proceeding as fast as producers might hope, Senter said.

"But module trucks are running at a good enough rate to keep the gins supplied," he said. "In most cases, our producers are starting with the better crop to get it out of the field and hopefully sidestep any problems we might have if an extended weather pattern sets in."

The Rolling Plains and counties to the north, nearer Lubbock, already had a hard freeze and their harvest was ahead of that of his local producers, he said. But Mitchell County producers didn't wait for a hard freeze and proceeded to defoliate. As a result, the Mitchell County cotton harvest is probably a little further along than usual for this time of year.

The hot, dry summer and bad weather in June meant Mitchell County lost about 12,000 acres of cotton. Other counties lost more, but Senter said "percentage wise" his county was representative of much of the region.

Cotton producers in the plains come to expect some crop loss either through hail or bad weather, Senter said.

In other regions, rain may have temporarily delayed harvests, but in most it was a welcome topping to wheat. In Mitchell County, Senter said, some producers were putting cattle out on wheat pastures a little early, but that was probably due to hay supplies being short.

The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters:

COASTAL BEND: Rain alleviated the drought but delayed harvesting of sesame, sunflower and hay. Farmers were getting ready to fertilize crop land. The pecan harvest was under way; some native varieties produced well, others did not. Orchard pecan yields were good where there was irrigation, although nut size may be slightly smaller than normal. Pastures continued to improve thanks to warmer than usual days.

EAST: The region did not receive significant rain. Daytime temperatures were in the 70s, dropping to 40s and 50s at night. Winter pastures made good progress, with some planting continuing. Some producers hurried to get the last cutting of hay. Livestock were in good condition. Feral hog damage reports were high.

FAR WEST: Pecan nuts were drying, but shucks were not fully open, and trees were not completely dormant. Fall-planted onions emerged and were showing good growth. Growers were harvesting cotton. Producers finished the last cutting of alfalfa. Red chiles were being harvested. Late-planted corn was drying down. Sorghum was nearly ready for harvesting.

NORTH: Soils were drying out after several days of sunshine and moderate temperatures, but moisture levels still ranged from adequate to surplus. Dry weather helped farmers finally get into their fields and plant small grains and winter annual pastures. Also, farmers were trying to harvest crops that have been in the fields longer than normal due to the wet weather. October rains caused regrowth of corn in fields planted last spring. Some of these fields remained too wet to do much about the regrowth. Most farmers indicated they will wait for a killing frost and then later shred the regrowth down and disk the residue in. Some corn was being used as forage. Oats and wheat took heavy damage from armyworms earlier and were not expected to recover. Cotton was in fair to good condition with yields of about 1.25 bales per acre reported. A few producers were trying to get one last cutting of hay. Livestock were in fair to good condition and producers began supplemental feeding. Some pastures were in poor condition due to overstocking.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were unseasonably warm, which helped producers harvesting crops. Soil moisture was adequate to short. Corn was 75 percent to 100 percent harvested, and yields were average to above average in most fields. The harvesting of peanuts, soybeans and sunflowers was nearly completed. Sorghum was 40 percent to 90 percent harvested with yields average to a little below average. Most producers had started harvesting cotton but a couple of foggy mornings slowed their progress. Wheat was nearly completely emerged except for fields that were planted behind corn. Wheat fields needed more moisture to promote growth before they could be grazed. Cattle were doing well. Pasture herds needed more supplementation.

ROLLING PLAINS: Conditions were ideal for harvesting cotton in most of the region. The crop made more pounds per acre than many producers expected, but yields were spotty in some counties. Though the warm, dry weather was perfect for cotton producers, pastures and winter wheat needed moisture. The winter wheat crop was emerged but stalled out, and pastures were showing signs of moisture stress. Some producers turned cattle out on winter wheat, trying to get the most grazing they can before winter. Some wheat fields were yellowing, an indication that fertilizer was leached out by heavy rains earlier in the fall. Some counties received rain, and wheat looked great accordingly. Cattle on rangeland looked good but soon may require supplemental feeding.

SOUTH: Cooler nights and warm days continued throughout the region. The condition of rangeland and pastures declined because of the cooler temperatures in some parts of the district. In other parts, livestock were treated to fresh new grazing thanks to recent rains. Soil moisture levels were adequate in the northern and southern parts of the region. Elsewhere, levels remained short. In the northern part of the region, peanut harvesting was in full swing and was expected to be finished by the end of November. Hay producers harvested what armyworms didn't take. Dry conditions prompted producers to irrigate carrots, cabbage, spinach, onions, wheat and oats. Harvesting of early-planted spinach fields in the baby-leaf stage was expected to begin soon. Soybeans and corn were in good condition.

SOUTH PLAINS: The region had another week of mild weather that allowed the harvesting of all crops to continue. Soil moisture was short to adequate. The corn harvest was winding down with above-average yields reported. The peanut harvest was all but complete with yields slightly below average. Wheat looked good and appeared to be rapidly growing Pastures and rangeland were in fair to good condition. Cattle were in good condition with producers continuing to provide supplemental feed.

SOUTHEAST: Some areas were harvesting hay, but supplies remained marginal for the year. Winter annual grasses showed good growth thanks to warm days and good soil-moisture levels. Rains gave recently planted winter pastures a good start. Earlier-planted pastures were damaged by fall armyworms. In some cases, replanting was impossible due to wet fields. Livestock were doing well. The harvesting of ratoon rice continued.

SOUTHWEST: The agricultural situation has changed significantly thanks to above-average rainfall during the last three months. More rain was forecast, as a strong el NiƱo usually results in more rain in the southern U.S. The rains were expected to make early spring planting possible. Cool weather helped conserve moisture. Forage availability improved, and small grains made excellent progress. The sweet-corn harvest was completed. The pecan harvest was nearly completed. The cabbage, pickling cucumber, green bean and peanut harvests continued.

WEST CENTRAL: Mild weather with warm days and cool nights continued. Hay harvesting and small-grain planting were ongoing. Small grains that had been planted early were emerging and doing well, with cattle grazing on fields in some areas. But more rain will be needed soon to maintain good growth and to fill stock tanks and ponds. Livestock were in fair to good condition. The pecan harvest was in full swing, but yields were not as good as expected.

TAGS: Cotton
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