High winds and high temperatures stress crops

Windy conditions and record high temperatures stressed crops and dried out pastures and rangeland in much of the state, according to reports from Texas AgriLife Extension Service agents.

The upper half of the state received some rain, but most parts of West Texas and South Texas remained dry.

"Hot, dry winds with gusts of up to 60 mph are an almost constant for Pecos County, and temperatures are commonly in the 100-plus degree range," said Jed Elrod, AgriLife Extension agent in Pecos County. “Farmers are finding it difficult to keep their young, emerging crops from being damaged by the winds, soil glare and blowing sands."

Fuel and fertilizer prices combined with the drought are driving up hay prices, Elrod said. Pecos County alfalfa farmers are commanding $225 per large, one-ton bales.

"Even at these prices, producers are saying they plan on increasing their price to the consumers," Elrod said. "One hay producer reports his fertilizer costs for alfalfa have increased from $5,500 to over $21,000 per truckload over the last three years."

"We've had highs in the 90s in the mountains and above 105 degrees along the (Rio Grande) River," said Jesse Lea Schneider, AgriLife Extension agent in Presidio County south of Pecos."Range conditions are very poor with most cattle on supplemental feed and consuming high amounts of mineral."

"We need moisture; we missed the million-dollar rain last weekend, and it looks like our chances for this weekend are diminishing," said Donnie Montemayor, AgriLife Extension agent based in Beeville for Bee County "Row crops look fair in the south end of the county; towards central and eastern areas they are very bad. Range and pasture is very short; supplemental feed is ongoing."

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

CENTRAL: Hot, windy weather was the rule. Ground moisture conditions deteriorated. Corn was so stressed that most producers considered harvesting it as silage. Pastures began to turn brown, but livestock remained in good condition.

COASTAL BEND: The region was hot, dry and in need of rain. Yield potential for row crops diminished, and ranges and pastures were in poor condition. Livestock were stressed, with supplemental feeding a necessity.

EAST: Thunderstorms brought rain, from a trace to nearly three inches in some counties. There was still concern about blossom end rot in tomatoes. Most other fruits and vegetables – blueberries, blackberries, corn, and watermelons – were being harvested. In Polk County, hay volume was down by nearly half, and producers were looking to buy. In Wood County, producers were cutting back on potassium and nitrogen and omitting phosphorus entirely due to high fertilizer prices.

FAR WEST: Hot, dry and windy conditions prevailed. Wildfires occurred across the district; more than 45,000 acres burned in Jeff Davis County alone. Temperatures were above normal; highs were above 100 degrees nearly every day, with 60 mph wind gusts many days. The winter wheat harvest began. Fall-planted onions were harvested. The second cutting of alfalfa was under way. Cotton was at least three weeks behind in maturity, and much of what cotton emerged was damaged by heat and blown sand. Chiles were in vegetative stage but were yet to make fruit. Pecan development was on schedule.

NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from short to adequate. Some areas received a little rain which improved pastures and hay meadows and raised the yield potential of corn, grain sorghum and soybeans. Corn, soybeans and grain sorghum were all in good condition. Corn emerged and was about 70 percent silked. The harvesting of wheat was slowed by rain but picked back up as fields dried out. Most wheat was harvested, and some fields will likely be double-cropped in soybeans. Wheat and oat yields were average or above. Hay harvesting continued, with yields and quality varying depending if fertilizer was used. Some pastures were shredded because of excess weeds. Cotton was planted and 50 percent to 70 percent squaring. Range and pastures were in good condition.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were above average, with some counties receiving from a trace to 5 inches of rain. Reports of crop damage from high winds and hail from the previous week continued to come in. Soil moisture was short to very short with most areas reporting short. Corn was fair to good with most areas reporting fair. Cotton varied from excellent to very poor with most areas reporting fair to poor. Cotton planting continued. Peanuts, sorghum and soybeans were rated mostly fair. The wheat harvest continued with the crop rated mostly poor to very poor. Range conditions were fair to poor with most areas reporting poor. Cattle were in fair to good condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: High winds and temperatures continued to be the norm. Thunderstorms rolled through the western part of the district this past week, but rainfall was minimal. Cotton was damaged by wind and hail. Some fields will be abandoned; some will be replanted. The wheat harvest was almost complete, with average or better yields. All pastures and range grasses were beginning to dry out, increasing the risk of wildfire. Livestock were "fleshy" and in good condition.

SOUTH: There was short to very short soil moisture conditions and fair to poor temperatures throughout the region. Producers need soil moisture to get through the summer. Cost of irrigation has several producers concerned about making a profit at harvest time. Grain sorghum harvesting started. Cotton progressed well, with excellent boll set. Corn turned color. Watermelon harvesting continued. Onion harvest is expected to be complete by late next week. Range and pasture forage conditions continued to decline. Producers continued supplemental feeding of livestock.

SOUTH PLAINS: The region saw record high temperatures between 100 to 105 degrees. Soil moisture was very short to short. Cotton was in fair to good condition, but much of the crop was being stressed by the heat and wind. Early cotton was beginning to square, and producers continued with irrigation. Sorghum was in fair to good condition. The wheat harvest continued, but with disappointing yields. Irrigated corn was in fair to good condition. Pastures and ranges were in poor to fair condition. Cattle were in mostly fair to good condition with supplemental feeding continuing.

SOUTHEAST: Highs were in the mid- to upper 90s, and high winds depleted soil moisture. There were some rain showers, with rainfall amounts of 1.25 inches in some areas. Hay harvesting continued. Livestock were doing well in spite of the heat. Mexican rice borer moths were caught in the traps. Range conditions improved.

SOUTHWEST: Near record high temperatures and high dry southerly winds aggravated the drought. Ranchers were providing heavy supplementation to livestock. Corn and sorghum were drying down, and the harvest should start in the next two to three weeks. Cantaloupes, watermelons and cotton were making good progress under heavy irrigation. The onion harvest was in full swing. The potato harvest was nearly complete.

WEST CENTRAL: Extremely hot and windy conditions continued. The wheat harvest continued with above average yields. Newly planted crops will not do well unless they receive moisture soon. Range and pastures declined. Grasses and forbes showed signs of heat stress. Stock tank water levels were rapidly dropping.

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