Texas crop, weather

With cold temperatures, rain, sleet and snow reported across the state, producers in East Texas have reported no crop damage so far, according to Dr. Ramona Kellum, Texas Cooperative Extension district director in Overton.

"Budding fruit trees, especially grapes and peaches in the Hill Country, appear to have escaped damage from this past weekend's cold spell," she said. "However, in the long run it appears that peaches will suffer about a 10 to 15 percent loss in production as a result of the early March freeze. These losses to the Texas Hill Country peach crop come behind last year's more than 90 percent peach loss following a March freeze."

In the Rolling Plains region, Galen Chandler, Extension district director in Vernon, said the wheat crop may be at risk.

"Freezing and near freezing temperatures and a wind chill in the mid-20s (F) accompanied with sleet and snow was reported last weekend," he said. "Time will tell if cold weather did any damage to healthy wheat that wasn't being heavily grazed."

The following are Extension district reports for the week:

PANHANDLE: The week began with above-average temperatures and ended with temperatures below freezing, accompanied by light rain and snow. Soil moisture is rated short to surplus, with most areas reporting adequate to surplus. Some corn was planted. Wheat is rated poor to excellent with most areas reporting good to excellent. Freezing temperatures could be a potential concern for possible wheat crop damage, and wheat streak mosaic virus was diagnosed in some fields. Range conditions are rated mostly fair to good and improving. Cattle are in fair to good condition. Supplemental feeding continues.

SOUTH PLAINS: Temperatures ranged from a high of 84 degrees F on Monday to below freezing by the end of the week. The region also received 1 to 3 inches of snow. Soil moisture is adequate. Damage caused by freezing temperatures to grapevines, fruit trees and wheat is expected. Pastures and ranges are in fair to good condition. The wet, freezing weather also caused stress to area livestock.

ROLLING PLAINS: Recent rains and sunshine have improved pastures and winter wheat in the region. Some areas reported more than 6 inches of rain. Pastures, wheat and oats fields are lush and green. Cotton plots have been rowed and are ready for planting. Some producers began cutting wheat for hay and silage. The seed wheat fields have started to head out, and some have filled out. Stock tanks have filled up after recent rain. One county in the district reported mildew and rust in wheat. Alfalfa fields are being laid down. Supplemental feeding of cattle has stopped. Producers are preparing to combat spring armyworm outbreaks.

NORTH: Soil moisture is adequate following rain and storms reported in some areas. No crop damage was reported following the storms. Nearly 5 inches of rain fell, which helped fill ponds and improve pasture conditions. Snow fell in some areas but there was no accumulation. Corn planting is nearing completion and most corn has begun to emerge is in good condition. Spring pastures and crops are good. Grain sorghum planting is under way, and soybeans are maturing. Winter wheat and oats are in good condition and heading. Wheat prospects are excellent and plant disease pressure is low to moderate. Ryegrass pasture improvement has relieved some producers from supplemental livestock feeding. Livestock are doing well. Range and pasture are in good to fair condition. Surface moisture is good, and winter grasses are growing well. There were reports of May beetles and tent caterpillars.

EAST: No significant crop damage was reported following the cold front, which brought much needed rainfall. Warm season grasses are growing, and some producers began fertilizing. Soil moisture is excellent. Winter forage continues to make excellent growth, and bermudagrass sprigging continues. Clovers are beginning to seed. Cool-season grasses and vegetables were growing well. Eastern tent caterpillar, forest tent caterpillar, May beetles and chafer damage was reported on trees. Forages are doing well after rain. Cattle prices this week were higher on all classes, and demand was strong. Cattle purchases increased as producers began to stock pastures they sold out during the fall drought. Livestock are doing well with supplemental feeding, and the hay supply is extremely short. Calving season continues.

FAR WEST: Soil moisture ranges from very short to surplus, and crops and pastures are in very poor to excellent condition. Winter wheat is in very poor to good condition. Mild conditions reported this week with one-half inch to 2 inches of precipitation reported. Fall-planted onions are good. Watermelon planting began.

WEST CENTRAL: Freezing temperatures brought sleet and snow to all areas. Wheat fields continued to thrive after the recent rain, but crops may have been damaged. Range and pasture conditions have improved. Rescue and summer grasses have begun to grow. Stock tanks filled up with significant rainfall. Producers applied the first dose of zinc on pecans. Freeze damage was not yet visible on pecan trees.

CENTRAL: Cold weather and snow caused some crop damage. Economic loses have not been calculated. Most stock tanks are full from the recent rain. Excessive rains prevented recently planted corn from emerging and replanting may be required.

SOUTHEAST: Winter annuals are flowering. Ryegrass has headed out. Cold temperatures slowed bermudagrass growth. Warm weather conditions proceeding the cold front caused grass to grow. After the front moved through the region, rain prevented rice planting and kept pastures muddy.

SOUTHWEST: Rain, which accompanied cold weather, measured from one-third inch to 1 inch. Rain levels in the first three months of 2007 have been excellent, but the soil profile remains very dry from the 23-month drought period. Forage availability is good. Bluebonnets are blooming. Corn, sorghum, wheat and potatoes are making good progress. Cotton planting continues. Spring forage conditions have improved. Cabbage and spinach harvest continues.

COASTAL BEND: The region experienced cooler temperatures and isolated rain which benefitted pastureland and early-planted corn and sorghum. Farming activities are on hold because of wet fields. Cattle are in excellent condition.

SOUTH: Soil moisture rated adequate throughout most of the region. Wheat and oats are progressing well. Cabbage, citrus, spring onion and sugarcane harvests continue. Corn and cotton planting will be completed within the week. Recent rain improved moisture in growing range and pastures. Supplemental livestock feeding is limited with increased availability of green forage.

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