Drought deepens for much of state

Only eastern and southeastern parts of the state continued to hold get-out-of-drought-free cards, reported Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

"Area farmers and ranchers are needing a rain in a desperate way," said Tommy Yeater, AgriLife Extension agent in Howard County , Big Spring. "We continue to have high winds and low humidity which has got us very dry."

"It's very dry. Winter wheat is in need of a rain soon and most producers that were grazing have pulled cattle from wheat," said Steven Sparkman, AgriLife Extension agent in Hardeman County , northwest of Vernon. "Hay is in short supply, but with relatively mild weather cattle producers are feeding sparingly."

"Conditions remain extremely dry in our area," said Ryan Martin, AgriLife Extension agent in Motley County , southeast of Amarillo. "In fact, one little spark from a campfire set a blaze over 100 acres earlier this week."

"Producers continue to feed supplements to livestock. What few stockers that are turned out are running out of groceries fast," said Langdon Reagan, AgriLife Extension agent in Wilbarger County , northwest of Wichita Falls. "Most will be gone by the end of month if something doesn't happen. The wheat crop looks devastated."

"Last Monday a freezing rain amounting to about 1/8 inch did give wheat some moisture, but it is still in desperate need of much more," said Justin Gilliam, AgriLife Extension agent in Throckmorton County , north of Abilene.

"This week most of the county received about 0.4 of an inch of rain," said Bob Whitney, AgriLife Extension agent in Williamson County , north of Austin. "Emerged wheat continues to die from drought and most all dry-planted wheat is still in the ground and won't emerge. This is a time of the year when most farmers are fertilizing for corn and at this point no one is in the field."

"Rangeland, pasture, and farm land are in very poor condition," said Steve Sturtz, AgriLife Extension agent in Tom Green County , San Angelo. "Due to the lack of moisture there is not much growth going on with anything unless it is irrigated."

"Extremely dry conditions continue," said Rachel Bauer, AgriLife Extension agent in Bastrop County , southeast of Austin. "Beef producers continue to sell cows, as water supplies are running out. We are getting reports of cows dying due to drought conditions and lack of energy and protein in hay supplies."

The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters this week:

COASTAL BEND: Dry conditions continued throughout the region . Livestock were supplemented with hay and protein as forage was scarce. Fertilizer applications continued, but whether there was enough topsoil moisture for seed to germinate was questionable.

EAST: Much needed rain fell across a majority of the area. This helped to improve soil conditions and winter forage growth. Because of recent temperature fluctuations, livestock became sick in some areas such as Tyler County. There were increased problems with feral hogs in Henderson County. Also, there were a large number of deer killed by cars in Trinity County.

FAR WEST: High winds and no precipitation continued to dry out pastures. Several counties were under a burn ban. The pecan harvest was ongoing.

NORTH: Two cold fronts have passed through this week, but left little moisture behind. Soil moisture was very short to short; pasture conditions were poor to fair. Livestock was in fair to good condition. Some livestock producers had to haul water to cattle because stock tanks were dry. The wheat crop is very poor to good in areas where no moisture was received. In areas that received rain, wheat was nearly 100 percent emerged. Supplemental feeding of livestock continued.

ROLLING PLAINS: The entire district was in need of moisture. Wildfire danger was extremely high. The cotton harvest wound down. Supplemental cattle feeding was ongoing.

SOUTH: Warm temperatures, very short soil moisture conditions and extremely dry range and pastures were the rule. Producers prepared land for planting potatoes. Wheat fields in the eastern part of the region emerged but further crop progress will depend upon a rain coming soon. Spring wheat was sowed despite dry conditions, and those stands that emerged were skimpy. Moisture must be received before cotton and grain sorghum can be planted. In the western parts of the region, topsoil moisture was greatly needed for spring regrowth. The harvesting of spinach, cabbage and broccoli was in full swing. Corn, sugarcane, citrus, tomato and other vegetable harvests continued in the southern parts of the region, as well as onion production which has just begun. Dormant pastures and declining surface water levels continued to affect the overall condition of livestock. Producers were struggling with the high cost of feed for supplemental feeding.

SOUTH PLAINS: Unseasonably warm and windy conditions prevailed. Soil moisture was very short to short. Cotton ginning continued and some cotton modules still remain in the field. Winter wheat is in poor to fair condition. Producers irrigated winter wheat to improve growing conditions. Pastures and ranges were in poor to fair condition and were in need of moisture. Cattle were in mostly fair to good condition and continued to require supplemental feeding.

SOUTHEAST: Soil moisture was adequate, but vacillating temperatures resulted in sickening livestock. Winter oats were up and being grazed at various stages. Madison County received a soaking rain that improved range conditions. Elsewhere in the region stock tanks were going dry.

SOUTHWEST: The region remained nearly completely dry. Forage availability was sparse. Producers have thinned herds and were providing large amounts of supplemental nutrition to their remaining livestock. Stock tanks were dry, which will have an adverse impact on livestock and wildlife. Wildlife appear in better condition than expected under these severe drought conditions. This anomaly may be a due to an above-average crop of acorns and mesquite beans, aided by supplemental deer feeding by hunters. The cabbage and spinach harvests were ongoing. Winter vegetable crops, including onions, were making good progress under heavy irrigation. The wheat crop will be sparse this year due to the drought. There may be only limited planting of other dryland row crops. The soil profile is very dry.

WEST CENTRAL: Mild daytime temperatures were coupled with cold nights. Extremely dry, windy conditions continued with burn bans in effect in many counties. The cotton harvest was completed with fairly good yields. Pasture and rangeland remained dry with very poor quality grass. Supplemental feeding of livestock continued to increase.

TAGS: Corn
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