Texas crop, weather

Most of Texas received a little to a lot of rain the first week of August.

In Central Texas and parts of East Texas 2 to 3 inches was common, with isolated instances of from 8 to 10 inches, according to the National Weather Service and reports from Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

In North Texas, Gene Bobo, AgriLife Extension agent for Cass County , south of Texarkana, reported from 8 to 16 inches fell, most within a 24-hour period.

"Some livestock had to locate to high ground but there were no reports of drowned animals," Bobo said.

Except for the far northeast counties, the Panhandle got relief as well, improving cotton, corn and other crops.

"First significant rainfall received since planting," said David Graf, AgriLife Extension agent for Sherman County , north of Amarillo. "Two to 5 inches across most of county, although some isolated areas received less than 0.5 inch. There were spotted areas of hail."

North of Lubbock, Hale County got more than a spot of hail, hammering cotton fields, said Scott Adair, AgriLife Extension agent.

"We have had several hail events," Adair said. "One occurred in the northeastern corner of the county and affected roughly 5,000 acres. Estimated damage may be as high as 40 percent. Two other storms occurred on consecutive days west of Hale Center. These storms affected approximately 20,000 acres and the estimated damage ranges between 40 percent and 100 percent."

"This week Mother Nature has be beneficial and at the same time hard on some producers," said J. D. Ragland, AgriLife Extension agent for Randall County . "As of late Thursday evening we had received just right at 0.7 inch for the week. Some harsh weather fell in southern Randall County near the Happy area, as high winds and large hail damaged some cotton, and there were reports of windows knocked out of homes and some turned-over pivots."

South and parts of Southeast Texas remained parched, receiving only scattered showers at best. And though parts of the Southwest did receive from 0.5 to 1.0 inch of rain, July was the hottest month on record with 23 days of 100-degree or higher temperatures.

"Range and pasture conditions continue to decline, and conditions are reaching the crisis mark even for ranchers who stock pastures at a conservative level," said Isaac J. Cavazos, AgriLife Extension agent for McMullen County , south of San Antonio. "Forage supply levels are reaching very low levels, and many stock tanks have gone dry, which limits grazing some pastures. Body-condition scores on cattle are declining. Some ranchers are utilizing prickly pear as an emergency feed source. High temperatures and dry conditions have been brutal."

More information on drought in Texas can be found at the Web site of the Drought Joint Information Center.

The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters:

CENTRAL: Most of the region got rain and cooler temperatures. However, the rains were not enough to fill stock tanks or creeks. Bushel weights in corn were low and aflatoxins were present. Overall, the corn crop looked poor, and as a result farmers' morale was low. Lack of forages for grazing was still a concern for livestock producers.

COASTAL BEND: The region had above-normal temperatures and no rain. The drought continued to take its toll. Rangeland and pastures will need several years to come back to quality grazing potential. Row crops were near complete failure. Low grain yields were reported coming into elevators. Farmers and ranchers had a poor outlook, and the agribusiness infrastructure, such as grain facilities, harvesting and trucking companies, was suffering. Sale of cattle and other livestock continued because hay was scarce and expensive.

EAST: As much as 10 inches of rain was reported in some parts of the region, but most received about 2 inches. Flooding was an issue in some counties. Some burn bans were lifted and another cutting of hay became possible. The blueberry and blackberry harvests neared completion. There were reports of grasshopper, armyworms and feral hogs. Livestock were in fair to good condition.

FAR WEST: The region received 1 to 5 inches of rain. Cotton was doing well, though in some fields there were reports of bacterial blight, stink bugs and grasshoppers. Pastures looked good after the rains.

NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from adequate to surplus. Some areas received from 8 to 16 inches of rain. The pastures and hay fields greatly improved, encouraging producers. Corn and grain sorghum were in fair to good condition and mostly matured, so the rains were not much benefit. The same held true for soybeans. The corn harvest was under way; some producers were harvesting the crop for silage. Hay was still being sent to South Central Texas. Cotton is in fair condition and should also respond. The rain replenished most stock tanks. Sunflowers proved to be profitable this year with yields of 1,200 pounds and higher per acre. Cattle were in good condition. Rangeland and pastures were in fair to good shape.

PANHANDLE: The region saw widespread showers and lower temperatures. From 0.5 to 3 inches was reported across southern and western counties. However, the northeast corner of the region remained very dry. Corn, cotton, peanuts, and soybeans were in good condition. Sorghum was fair. Cotton needed more heat units. Corn in the northeast was only 50 percent pollinated. Wheat fields were prepared for planting. Rain helped dryland crops. Insect counts were low for this time of year, but southwestern corn borer numbers were on the rise. Cattle on grass were doing well, and cattle in feed yards did better thanks to the lower temperatures. Rangelands improved.

ROLLING PLAINS: From 1 to 6 inches of rain helped tremendously in improving pastures and hay fields. It appeared another cutting of hay could be made. Some runoff was collected in parts of the district. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Cotton made good progress in some areas while in other counties farmers have plowed under this year's crop due to poor stands. Wheat fields were plowed and treated for weeds sprayed in preparation for fall planting.

SOUTH: Continued hot, dry weather meant soil moisture was very short throughout the region. All farmers, even those irrigating, were having problems keeping up because of 104-plus temperatures. Even trees were beginning to show signs of drought stress and dying. The corn and sorghum harvests were expected to be completed soon. Cotton continued to develop, and most peanuts were pegging. In the eastern parts of the region, sesame as an alternative crop was flowering and setting pods. It was the only crop doing well in that area. Producers continued to move livestock out of the eastern counties or supply heavy supplemental feeding. In some cases, producers totally sold out herds. No field preparation for fall crops was reported. In the southern parts of the region, the sorghum and corn harvests were complete, cotton harvesting was beginning, and sugarcane planting was under way.

SOUTH PLAINS: The region experienced slightly cooler temperatures and some much-needed rain. Some hail damage was reported in Hale, Cochran and Bailey counties. Producers continued irrigating most crops. Herbicide applications also continued. Cotton was blooming and was mostly in fair to good condition. Sorghum headed out and was in fair to good condition. The rain was expected to improve pastures. Producers continued supplemental feeding of livestock.

SOUTHEAST: Due to recent rains, the range conditions have dramatically improved in parts of the region. The rain made possible a second or third cutting of hay for most hay producers in Madison County. However, extreme heat and no rain made conditions severe in Grimes and other counties, and burn bans remained in effect.

SOUTHWEST: July was the hottest month on record with 23 days with temperatures of 100 degrees or above. The average high temperature for the month was 100.4. In addition, the last 11 month period was the second-driest period on record. There was some relief, however, as light sporadic showers deposited 0.5 to 1 inch of rain in the southernmost part of the region. However, though the light rain helped settle dust, it was not economically significant. Incidences of roadside and field wildfires fires continued. Forage availability was almost non-existent. The corn and sorghum harvests were nearly complete with below-average yields reported. Cotton, peanuts and pecans made excellent progress under heavy irrigation. The grape harvest was in full swing.

WEST CENTRAL: Temperatures were milder with recent weather changes. Many counties reported significant rainfall, raising soil moisture levels. Crops were trying to recover from drought conditions. Improved soil moisture will help get fall planting off to a good start. Rangeland and pastures improved thanks to the rain. Pecans were in fair to good condition.

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