Texas, crop and weather: Reports of armyworms in some areas

Scattered storms brought rain to some parts of Texas, with many counties seeing warm days and cooler nights, reported Texas Cooperative Extension agents and specialists across the state.

Range, pastures and home lawns remained in good condition in most areas. But there have many reports of armyworms. In some cases, reports are of the proportion of "invasions."

Dr. Chris Sansone, Extension entomologist at San Angelo, said the reports of armyworm infestations are not surprising as conditions are ideal for the pest.

The armyworm is named for its habit of moving across pastures in large numbers like the legions of an advancing army, devouring grasses in its wake. Crops and lawns can literally disappear before your eyes, he said.

Farmers and ranchers are actively treating for the pest. However, Sansone noted, that once the caterpillars become large enough to see, control becomes much more difficult.

The following are compiled reports from Extension agents across the state:

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were near normal most of the week but dropped below normal by week's end. Isolated thunderstorms brought some rain. Soil moisture was rated very short to adequate with most areas reporting short. Corn is rated fair to excellent with most areas reporting good. The silage harvest continued. Cotton was rated fair to good with most areas reporting fair. Sorghum continued to head out, with some fields turning color. Soybeans were rated mostly good. Land preparation continued for wheat planting. Range conditions were rated very poor to excellent, with most areas reporting fair. Cattle were in excellent condition.

SOUTH PLAINS: The week was warm and humid, with from a half to 2 inches of rainfall reported in some counties. The corn harvest was in full swing with good yields reported. Cotton was in fair to good condition. The warm temperatures caused cotton bolls to start opening. The grain sorghum harvest started, and early yield reports are good. Some producers have started to harvest peanuts; fair yields and low grades were reported. The pumpkin harvest is underway, and the yield potential is high. The watermelon harvest continued, but both yields and quality have been affected by diseases and adverse weather. Early planted wheat is up and looks good. Pastures and ranges were in fair to good condition. Livestock are in mostly good to excellent condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: Weather conditions remained great for cotton growers all across the region. Cotton vegetation was a beautiful green, and plants were loaded with bolls. Provided the weather holds out, producers should have a good cotton harvest. Wheat was being planted, with some early plantings already up. Rain showers were expected, which will help to get the ground ready and wheat sown. Low levels of greenbugs were already showing up in some wheat and oat fields. Hay producers were trying to bale in between showers. Pastures looked good, and livestock were in good condition. Working of fall cattle and shipping has begun. Pecans were loading very heavy with some limb breakage due to excess weight of fruit. Peanuts were looking good.

ORTH: Soil moisture ranged from adequate to short. Scattered showers raised soil moisture. Some rain was received with more forecast for the next few days. Rains slowed harvest and hay operations but helped pastures. Producers raced to complete the corn harvest between the rains. Harvest yields remained impressive. Forage production is picking up again. Many producers reported the best hay year ever. Others reported poor quality. There was a surplus of hay for sale, with many producers trying to recoup their fertilizer and baling costs. Early reports indicated slightly average yields of corn, grain sorghum and soybeans. Some armyworms were reported. Fields were beginning to be prepared for fall planting. Cotton is in fair to good condition and setting bolls. Livestock are in good condition. The cattle market was active, with calves steady but replacement cows weaker. Pastures were still looking good for this time of year.

EAST: Some counties received needed rain; others not. Hay harvesting continued with prices ranging from $25 to $40 per big round bales. Most hay barns are full, but quality is poor. With recent rainfall, pasture conditions improved. Reports of armyworms continued. Cattle conditions remained good to excellent. However there were reports of hornflies becoming a problem. Pecan growers in some areas were having a difficult time controlling. Black pecan aphid is also a problem in some orchards.

FAR WEST: Soil moisture ranged from very short to adequate, and crops and pastures are in very poor to excellent condition. Cotton is in poor to excellent condition. Pecan growers in some counties are expecting a bumper crop. Cotton farmers need more heat units for their crop. Pastures are doing all right going into fall.

WEST CENTRAL: The region experienced warm days and cool nights, with some scattered showers. Producers continued to prepare fields for fall planting. Hay production continued to be good with high yields. Many hay fields are being grazed. Cotton continued to do very well. Range and pastures continued good growth. Armyworm activity became a problem throughout the region. Livestock were in fair to good condition with very little supplemental feeding. Pecan trees were loaded, and producers were preparing to harvest. There was some concern of pecan scab. Many trees were so heavily weighted with nuts that branches were breaking.

CENTRAL: Most counties received needed rain. Preparation for planting winter forages continued. Rangeland and livestock were in good condition.

SOUTHEAST: Hot and humid weather with intermittent rain showers continued this week. Pasture conditions were excellent. The hay harvest was reported as the best in three years, though harvests were hampered by isolated showers. Armyworms were widespread, but producers were treating fields. No wheat has been planted yet due to wet field conditions. Livestock are doing well.

SOUTHWEST: The region received nearly 2 inches of rain, bringing the year-to-date total to about 150 percent of the long-term average. Forage availability remained above average, but fall crops experienced more disease and insect problems than average. Some fields were heavily infested with fall armyworms. Peanuts were making good progress. Green beans have been planted and good stands achieved. Some cabbage was replanted. Farmers were baling hay. The cotton harvest was late. While the cotton crop looks good, it may not be a bumper harvest. Plants did not set sufficient bolls during July's cloudy, rainy days.

COASTAL BEND: Three rain-free days at the close of last week allowed cotton harvest to resume in some counties, but wet fields are still a problem in most areas. Cotton has sustained losses in decreased square and boll retention as soils stayed wet for extended periods. Several weeks of dry weather are needed to complete the cotton harvest. Much of the grain sorghum crop is still in the field and is more than two months late for harvest. Quality is poor. Soybeans were ready to be harvested. Hay harvest has also been hampered. There was ample grass to cut for hay, but getting it baled before it rotted in the pasture remained a problem.

SOUTH: Soil moisture ranged from adequate to 100 percent. Row crops fields were reported to be saturated in some areas, but most land dried out, which allowed fall planting to continue. The cotton crop progressed well. The corn harvest was completed, and only a few sorghum fields those planted late remained unharvested. Livestock remained in excellent condition as did native range and pastures.

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