Drought stress pressures crops and livestock across Texas

Extremely high temperatures over much of Texas has evaporated chances for good crop yields except where irrigation water is available, Texas Cooperative Extension officials say.

"Corn and milo harvests are more disappointing than expected due to the dry conditions," said Ron Woolley, Extension district administrator in Stephenville.

Livestock raisers, feeling the brunt of drought-zapped pastures and water tanks, opted to provide supplemental feed to their animals or cull out portions of their herds and head for a sale barn, according to Extension county agents throughout much of Texas.

"Hay is being brought in from Louisiana for heavy supplemental feeding of livestock, while others continue to reduce cattle numbers for lack of forage and hay," said Tony Douglas, Extension district administrator in Dallas.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were above average to near normal. Soil moisture is short to very short. Corn has tasseled and is in mostly fair to good condition. Spider mites are increasing, and corn borer moths are active. Cotton varies from very poor to excellent. Peanuts, sorghum and soybeans are rated mostly fair. Corn leaf aphids are present in most sorghum. Range conditions have deteriorated. Cattle are rated in fair to good condition.

SOUTH PLAINS: No relief from drought conditions was received as temperatures climbed to 99 F or higher almost daily. Soil moisture is very short to short. Irrigated cotton is in fair to good condition as it blooms and sets bolls. Dryland cotton has either failed or is in poor condition.

Corn is in good to excellent condition. Peanuts are in fair to good condition. Sorghum is suffering from dry conditions. Pumpkins are progressing well with continuous irrigation. Pastures and ranges are in very poor to poor condition. Cattle are mostly in fair to good condition with some supplemental feeding.

ROLLING PLAINS: Conditions are bleak. Continued triple-digit heat has taken all the moisture from the top 3 to 5 inches of soil, with little or no moisture below that level. Crops are dying under the intense heat and lack of moisture. Cattle are being sold due to lack of feed and water. Water tanks are drying up. Grasshopper populations are high.

NORTH: Extreme heat continued. Crop, range and pasture conditions are very poor to fair. The soybean yields are low, and the harvest is nearly complete. No hay is available, and livestock water supplies are critically low.

EAST: Dry conditions are leading livestock producers to liquidate herds. Some cattle raisers are providing supplemental feed. With little rain, plants are not growing. Hay production is down to about one-fourth of normal in Houston County and is of poor quality. Some ranchers in Upshur County have culled 100 percent of their cattle. Some creeks have quit running in Rusk County.

FAR WEST: Soil moisture ranges from very short to adequate, and crops and pastures are in very poor to fair condition. Dryland cotton is in very poor to fair condition, but irrigated cotton is in good to excellent condition. Many cattle producers are selling off, moving their herds to out-of-state pastures or to feedlots. Sheep and goat producers are fairing only slightly better as their livestock are more drought tolerant.

Alfalfa harvesting is growing well with the fourth cutting beginning and four more cuttings expected. Melons are doing very well in quality, quantity and prices, and currently are being shipped to local, state and national markets.

WEST CENTRAL: Hot, dry conditions continued. Burn bans remain in effect. All crops are suffering from moisture stress. Sorghum is mostly headed out but not much grain is filling out. Hay operations have stopped. Irrigated corn is doing well and will be harvested soon. Range and pasture conditions are deteriorating. Tank water is drying up. Most livestock producers have culled herds to the minimum and are preparing for continued drought through the fall. Irrigation continues on orchards. Pecan drop was noted on some trees due to stress.

CENTRAL: Extreme drought conditions remain in effect. Grazing conditions are declining rapidly as pastures and rangelands are short and browned out. Water and hay supplies are becoming more of a concern for cattle producers. Cattle being culled to reduce stocking rates, and supplemental feeding continues.

SOUTHWEST: Isolated, minor rain showers deposited about one-tenth to one-third of an inch of rain in a small part of the region. The rest remains very dry. The northeast portion is green because it has received more rain. Forage in the rest of the district has turned brown and entered mid-summer dormancy. Forage availability is almost nonexistent in about 60 percent of the region. The watermelon and cantaloupe harvests are winding down. The corn and sorghum harvests are in full swing with disappointing yields and quality. Dryland corn and sorghum was down about 70 percent. Cotton and peanuts, under irrigation, are making excellent progress.

COASTAL BEND: Hot, dry weather continues with some of the area receiving spotty showers that interrupted harvest from time to time. Rice and soybean harvest began, and the grain sorghum harvest continues. Some hay is being cut and stored for winter.

SOUTH: Soil moisture is short. Corn and sorghum harvests continue. Cotton harvest has begun in some areas, and low yields are being reported.

Cotton defoliation continues in other areas in preparation for harvest. Range and pasture conditions have improved in areas that received some rain recently.

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