Texas crop, weather

As far as rainfall, it was feast or famine, according to reports from Texas AgriLife Extension Service county agents throughout the state.

In East Texas, some counties reported as much as six inches. Some counties in North Texas got as much as three inches.

In the South, Southwest and West Central regions, top soil moisture remained low, putting dryland wheat and oat crops at risk, and requiring livestock producers to continue to supply supplemental feed.

"We got rainfall in the amount of 3 to 6 inches across the county, with much runoff to fill most low ponds and water surface areas," said Douglas McKinney, AgriLife Extension agent in Panola County. "Livestock are still consuming much hay with limited winter pasture growing."

"Our weather has been warmer than usual with several windy days and some blowing sand," said Greg Gruben, AgriLife Extension agent in Scurry County." Conditions are extremely dry and winter wheat is suffering. We need the rain for the crop to come."

"Wheat pastures continue to suffer," said Heath Lusty, AgriLife Extension agent in Jack County. "Fire danger is extremely high and 400 acres burned this week. Some producers have already started pricing fertilizer, and it will cost well over $50 per acre this year."

The following conditions were reported by AgriLife Extension districts this week:

CENTRAL: Top soil moisture improved and pastures showed signs of greening up. However, there is still not much grazing in the pastures for wildlife and livestock. Stock tank levels continued to drop. Beef cattle producers were supplementing cows with feed and hay.

COASTAL BEND: Days were warm with some light rainfall. Soil moisture remained mostly short. Producers began planting corn. Rainfall is needed for winter pastures and crops. Livestock was still being supplemented with feed as there is a shortage of good quality forage.

EAST: Weather conditions have fluctuated from frost to temperatures in the high 60s. Rain fell in much of the district; some counties reported as much as 6 inches. Pea-size hail was also reported. The heavy rains helped fill stock ponds. There were continued reports of poor winter pasture performance, but other producers saw excellent growth. The warmer temperatures aided ryegrass and clover as well as winter weeds. Cattle were in good condition with continued supplemental feeding. Hay supplies should hold out through the winter. Local truck farmers began spring planting and seed bed preparation.

FAR WEST: Soil moisture was very short to short as no rain has fallen for some time. Range and pastures were in very poor to good condition. Winter wheat was in poor to good condition. Oats were in fair to good condition. Very windy and dry conditions have made burn bans necessary. Most cattle were on supplemental feed with some reports of poisonous weed consumption.

NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from short to surplus. Some counties received as much as 3 inches of rain. Weather conditions remained mild with cool mornings and some light frost. Pastures looked good, and winter wheat, though 100 percent emerged, was in poor to good condition. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Haying and supplemental feeding continued, and there is adequate water for livestock. Burn bans have restricted prescribed burns, denying an important management tool for many farmers and ranchers. Feral hogs continued to damage crops and pastures.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were near average most of the week. Some land preparation for spring crops was in progress. Soil moisture continued to decline with all areas reporting short to very short. Wheat condition continued to be mostly poor to very poor. Cattle were being supplemented or sold because of lack of available grazing. Rangeland conditions were mostly fair to poor. Wildfire danger remained high. Cattle were in fair condition, with producers continuing supplemental feeding at high rates.

ROLLING PLAINS: Eight-tenths to 2 inches of rain fell over the weekend, which should dramatically improve the condition of winter wheat. Sporadic reports of greenbugs continued to come in throughout the district. Many producers are spraying fields, while others are hoping the wheat will outgrow the aphid pressure. Herbicide applications have picked up in recent weeks and should continue to increase with the recent rain. Top-dress applications of fertilizer should also increase. Soil testing has been brisk with the expected rise in fertilizer costs. The rain helped fill many stock tanks which were very low – some were completely dry. Condition of livestock declined even though producers are feeding supplement on a regular schedule. The cotton harvest was completed, although the gins will be running for another month due to the large crop.

SOUTH: Cool and windy weather along with dry soil moisture conditions were prevalent throughout the region. Producers with irrigation capacity were busy applying water, especially to dryland wheat and oat crops. Dryland producers were concerned that their wheat and oats will be a total loss if current dry conditions continue. The dryland producers will need some moisture within the next week to prevent total loss. Germination of wheat and oats was also affected by the lack of moisture. Citrus, sugarcane and winter-vegetable harvesting remained active. Spring planting was in its early stages but will require frequent watering by producers to succeed. Livestock producers continued supplemental feeding of livestock because of extremely dry native range and pastures.

SOUTH PLAINS: Warm temperatures and high winds prevailed the first part of the week. Friday and Saturday brought a mixture of rain, snow and ice, which was the first significant moisture since mid-December. Precipitation estimates ranged from 0.3 to 1 inch. Field activities included shredding of stalks and listing of beds. Wheat was in poor to fair condition. Producers began irrigating winter wheat. Pastures and ranges were in poor to fair condition. Dry native pastures offered no grazing; supplemental feeding of livestock continued.

SOUTHWEST: Light showers came over the weekend, but the region remained extremely dry. Only about one inch of rain has fallen since Oct. 1, and abnormally warm weather is aggravating the dry conditions. The incidence of roadside fires has increased significantly. Farmers are heavily irrigating. Forage availability was below average. Ranchers were providing heavy supplemental nutrition to livestock. Some corn was planted under irrigation, but small grains planted under dry land conditions will probably have to be abandoned. Winter fruits and pecan orchard pruning was under way. The cabbage and spinach harvest continued. Onions and carrots made good progress under heavy irrigation and warm weather. Early planted potatoes began to emerge and made good progress under heavy irrigation.

WEST CENTRAL: Warm, dry weather conditions continued throughout most of the week. Some storms came through on the weekend with a cold front, but little moisture was reported. Wildfires continued to be a concern. Burn bans remained in effect in most areas. Some field preparations for hay season were begun. Most small grain crops were only barely emerged and showed little to no growth. Pastures had no winter grasses or forbs for grazing. Livestock supplemental feeding continued to increase. Fruit tree spraying was under way with dormant oil.

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