Rain, snow brings some relief to drought-stricken areas

Rain and snow came to parts of the state – as much as 6.5 inches of rain in East Texas, 5 inches to parts of North Texas, and 2 inches in Central Texas – but passed over many other drought-stricken areas.

Even where rain fell, Texas AgriLife Extension Service reports showed a consensus that much more is needed to give any long-term relief.

"(A small amount of ) moisture came in the form of rain, sleet and snow," said Ryan Martin, AgriLife Extension agent in Motley County in the Rolling Plains, west of Wichita Falls. "Although the moisture did help with winter wheat, it wasn't enough to relieve us from drought conditions."

"The county received 0.3 inches of rain over the past week," said Wes Utley, AgriLife Extension agent in Haskell County, west of Fort Worth. "However, the drought situation continues to prevail. Local wheat producers are skeptical of any good yields, and cotton producers are hoping for rains to help with planting coming up in the future months."

"After last week's rain and this week's warm temperatures, the winter grasses and weeds, and wheat and oats have picked up a little," said Josh Blanek, AgriLife Extension agent in Somervell County, south of Dallas. "But it may be too late to do much long-term good, and more rainfall is desperately needed."

"Last week's rain has really turned things around," said Michael Berry, AgriLife Extension agent in Delta County, northeast of Dallas. "Another week without rainfall and livestock producers would have to start thinking about culling back herds even more."

"Much needed rain fell across the county in the last week. Three to 6 inches of rain were reported in all areas of the county," Joe Daniel, AgriLife Extension horticultural agent in Cherokee County, Rusk. "Bedding Plant producers report strong vegetable transplant sales."

"Recent rains gave Bexar County a small boost, but more moisture is needed," said Jerry Warren, AgriLife Extension agent in Bexar County, San Antonio. "Most parts of the county received about 2.5 inches of rain. This will help in the short run but much more is needed to replenish our bottom-season moisture."

"A tenth-inch rainfall did nothing but settle the dust for Jim Hogg County," said Larry Perez, AgriLife Extension agent in Jim Hogg County, south west of Corpus Christi.

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

CENTRAL: Pastures and small grains greatly benefited from last week's rain, but some counties remained extremely dry. Supplemental feeding of livestock continued. Stock tanks remained low. Warm days and nights caused some corn to emerge. Farmers were trying to plant remaining milo acreage.

COASTAL BEND: A small amount of rain fell over a three-day period. More rain was needed to replenish deep soil moisture. Planting was limited with some producers dry-planting to meet deadlines. Ranchers either continued to feed remaining livestock or sell off herds as grazing was virtually non-existent.

EAST: The region received between 2.5 and 6.5 inches of rain. Despite the recent rains, Newton County reported several wildfires. Cattle were in fair to good condition with supplemental feeding. There was an increase in reports of damage from beaver and feral hog activity. Spring planting and soil testing continued. Dairy prices continued to drop and feed prices remained high, causing more concern among producers.

FAR WEST: With the exception of Terrell County, which received more than 2 inches, there was no rainfall reported in the region. Land for chiles and cotton was about 50 percent pre-irrigated. Fall-planted onions were growing well. Pecans remained dormant. Alfalfa came out of dormancy and was slowly growing. Planting of spring wheat was completed with about 95 percent of the crop emerged. Irrigated wheat looked good.

NORTH: Last week’s rain made a big difference. Soil moisture ranged from short to adequate, though winds were quickly drying out the topsoil again. Stock ponds were somewhat replenished by runoff. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Another week without rain and livestock producers would have had to further cull herds. Livestock producers reported cattle were backing off the hay, an indication that forage conditions were improving. Row-crop farmers were finishing corn planting as their fields dried out. Some of the corn crop emerged, but there were problems with crows eating the planted seed. Grain sorghum planting began. Wheat was in fair to good condition and growing rapidly, a dramatic change, after the rain. Cool-season forbes and annual grasses were improving pastures. Winter clovers and ryegrass were growing well, and the rains spurred rangeland into its spring growth pattern. Sweet potato growers were building beds. A sweet potato weevil was found in a home gardener’s seed sweet potato, and the Texas Department of Agriculture was called. The department established a half-mile quarantine around the location.

ROLLING PLAINS: Wheat progressed quickly after a little rain. However, many of the tillers will not produce a viable head of wheat so yields will be down dramatically this year. Producers were struggling whether to harvest their wheat for grain, bale it or graze it. Hay is still in high demand in many counties. Fortunately, pastures were greening up, especially those sprigged in Bermuda grass and other improved varieties. Stock water tanks were still low. Some producers applied pre-emergent weed control aerially. Crop land was plowed and rowed; producers were waiting for a rain to begin spring planting. Producers were still supplying supplemental feed for livestock.

SOUTH: Very short soil moisture, mild temperatures and windy conditions continued. Some rain in the northern counties helped green up pastures. However, if there is no follow-up rain soon, conditions were expected to worsen. Farmers were not planting much yet but were expected to start with some cotton and maybe peanut planting in mid-April. Potato fields were in the flowering stage. Some early planted corn emerged. Field activity increased in the eastern parts of the region, but farmers were planting dry, hoping for some seed germination with applied irrigation. In the western parts of the region, producers took advantage of the moisture and planted sorghum. Cotton producers began planting and should be finished soon. Onions and early planted corn were doing well. Spring row and vegetable crops progressed well in the southern parts of the region. Although there was a slight increase in warm-season forage production, livestock producers continued supplemental feeding. Stock tanks were low with many completely dry. Ranchers were temporarily using low-quality, highly salty windmill water.

SOUTH PLAINS: The region experienced typical warm and windy spring weather. Soil moisture was very short to short. Producers continued to prepare for spring planting by working field beds. Winter wheat was in very poor to poor condition. Producers continued to irrigate winter wheat.. Pastures and ranges were in very poor to poor condition. Cattle were in good condition and supplemental feeding continued.

SOUTHEAST: Range conditions improved. Temperatures were seasonal with heavy fog in the mornings. Cool season annuals flowered and showed good growth. Producers dry planted grain sorghum and corn until the rains came. Brazoria County had received on average 1.5 inches. The eastern part of the region around Alvin received 2 inches. The rain was welcome, but overall, the region is 25 inches behind normal from January 2008 to the present. Fertilizing activity was high prior to rains. The hay supply was short, though feeding was still active, slowed only by the rains. Livestock were doing well.

SOUTHWEST: Rain came but more was needed to sustain crops and fill the middle and lower soil profiles. Though the rains were not enough to cause recovery of rangeland and pastures, they reduced the incidences of roadside and field fires. Ranchers continued to provide heavy supplemental nutrition to their remaining livestock. Some stock tanks were partially refilled, but many remained low. The cabbage and spinach harvests continued. Potatoes, spring onions and spring cabbage were making good progress under heavy irrigation. Irrigated corn and sorghum planting was completed. Cotton planting continued. The wheat harvest will be one of the lowest in many years.

WEST CENTRAL: Weather was mild with rain reported in several counties. The wheat crop remained in poor condition. Small grains remained behind normal development. Some producers applied fertilizer and began planting. Range and pastures greened up but remained in need of more rain.

TAGS: Management
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