Edouard gives some parched Central Texas a drink

As it made landfall north of Galveston Aug. 5, Tropical Storm Edouard brought rain to many southeastern counties.

Many South Texas counties had already been granted drought relief earlier from Hurricane Dolly, saturating soils and greening up pastures, according to reports from Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel. But by early morning of Aug. 6, Edouard was in Central Texas near Waco and moving to the northwest, dropping rain as it went, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Dale Fritz, AgriLife Extension administrator, Bryan, said that parts of the region were well-soaked while others got about an inch or less.

"It was spotty," Fritz said. "I know that Anahuac (Chambers County) got about 5 inches, but other parts of the county only got about a half inch."

Fritz said the rain will be a life saver for forage and livestock producers in his district, perhaps allowing them to make another cutting of hay. It may be a mixed blessing for the corn, sorghum and rice producers, however. The corn and sorghum harvests were in progress, and wet fields will now keep combines out of them. delay combines from going into the fields.

Fritz said the rice harvest was about a week away. Though reports from Jefferson County rice growers aren't in yet, he suspected there may be some lodging (flattening of the crop) caused by wind gusts.

While some South Texas counties benefitted, others were passed by again. Dr. Jose Pena, AgriLife Extension economist based at Uvalde, said Edouard brought only about one-tenth of an inch to most of the region.

"There were spots where there was more, but for the most part, it missed us," Pena said. The year-to-date cumulative rainfall as recorded at Uvalde is little more than 4 inches, compared to a long-term average of more than 14 inches, he noted.

On the positive side, the region's sorghum harvest was in progress, and a heavy rain might have ruined the chances of completing it, Pena said.

Dr. Ron Woolley, district AgriLife Extension administrator, said that mid-morning Aug. 6, Stephenville was only getting a "light mist."

However, the more southern parts of his region were getting rain, which may be a mixed blessing, he said.

"The corn and sorghum harvests are in progress in the Blacklands, and this may delay them," Wolley said.

Corn will probably recover, and the rain will have little more effect than to delay the harvest, but at this stage of growth, sorghum seed heads are fragile and there could be losses.

On the other hand, pastures and rangeland throughout the region were badly in need of rain, Woolley said.

"We have some areas that only got one cutting of hay so far," he said.

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

CENTRAL: Soil moisture was very short across the district and drought conditions remained. Rangeland, pastures and trees were showing signs of severe drought stress. Livestock were heavily supplemented to maintain body condition. Some producers were forced to wean calves early. The hay crop was approaching a 75 percent loss. The pecan crop looked light due to drought stress.

COASTAL BEND: Hot and dry was again the norm. Drying did allow for cotton harvest to begin in some areas. Victoria County reported the earliest harvest of crops in history due to dry conditions. The eastern portion of the district reported rainfall was needed for pastures and hay production, while the western areas reported pasture forages have responded to last week’s rains and hay meadows are being cut.

EAST: Dry conditions prevailed with temperatures over 100 degrees. Hay production ceased while many producers were forced to feed their livestock hay. Grasshoppers were becoming a problem in hayfields and pastures, and there were reports of armyworms. Vegetable crop production declined as the growing season came to an end. The blueberry and blackberry harvests neared completion. Landscapes are showing severe drought and will likely experience serious damage to trees and shrubs.

FAR WEST: Scattered showers were reported across the district with accumulations of 0.3 to 3 inches. The onion crop harvest was nearly complete. Producers began the fourth cutting of alfalfa. Cotton was setting bolls. Chiles were fruiting. Dryland sorghum suffered from lack of moisture. The grape harvest was delayed by rains the week before. Pecans and alfalfa progressed on schedule.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were near normal early in the week before rising to above average by week’s end. Soil moisture was adequate to very short with most areas reporting adequate. Some rain came to isolated areas. Corn tasseled and was rated mostly fair to good. Cotton, which was squaring and setting bolls, varied from very poor to excellent with most areas reporting fair. Peanuts were in from very poor to good condition with most areas reporting fair. Sorghum was from very poor to good with most areas reporting fair. Rangeland grasses deteriorated because of the heat and lack of moisture. Cattle were in good condition.

NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from short to very short, and hot, dry conditions persisted. The drought-like conditions began to threaten livestock, crops and forages. Pastures and hay crops were brown and will be lost soon without rain. Burn bans were issued. The soybean crop may be a complete loss as rains stopped coming before the pods developed. Most plants have pods, but they are empty or are the size of “BBs.” The corn harvest began but no yield reports were in yet. Livestock were in fair to good condition but need shade in the afternoons. Range and pastures were in fair to poor condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: Because of scalding hot and windy days, scattered showers did little to improve conditions. Temperatures were above 100 degrees for most of the week. With the extreme heat and lack of moisture, the cotton crop showed signs of burning up. Replanted cotton was in poor condition. Sorghum, haygrazer, pastures and garden vegetables were also suffering. Stock tanks were either drying up or were already bone dry. Many producers were giving supplemental feed because of poor pasture conditions, and livestock remained in fair to good condition. All vegetation was stressed.

SOUTH: Thanks to rain from Hurricane Dolly, soil moisture ranged from 100 percent surplus to adequate throughout the region. Some areas are more saturated than others. Cotton harvesting was in full swing in parts of the region, but yields were disappointing. A small amount of late-planted grain sorghum was yet to be harvested. Due to the rains and high temperatures, there was an increase in forage growth. Producers will likely harvest hay from improved pastures as soon as weather permits.

SOUTH PLAINS: Temperatures reached 100 degrees, and soil moisture was short to adequate. Producers continued irrigating at full capacity but had difficulty keeping up with crops' water needs. Cotton was in fair to good condition. Many cotton fields were at or near early cutout and were wilting in the heat of the day. Moisture was badly needed, but chances for rain were slim. Corn was in good condition and reached the dent stage. Sorghum was in fair to good condition but showing signs of moisture stress, such as rolled leaves. Soybeans and peanuts were in fair to good condition. Pumpkins were in good condition and on schedule. Pastures and ranges were in fair condition. Cattle were in good condition as producers continued supplemental feeding.

SOUTHWEST: The region remained very dry. July ended with just slightly more than 1 inch of total rain compared to a long-term average of more than 2 inches. Cotton and peanuts continued to make good progress under heavy irrigation. The corn and sorghum harvest was under way, while the watermelon and cantaloupe harvests were completed.

WEST CENTRAL: Temperatures remained in the triple digits most of the week. No rainfall was reported. Pastures continued to decline under above-average temperatures. All crops were suffering from lack of moisture. Forage quality was dropping. Livestock remained in fair condition. Producers are concerned as water levels in tanks and ponds were rapidly decreasing.

TAGS: Management
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