Texas rains hit and miss

No one is calling it drought yet, but some parts of the state were getting extremely dry this week, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

Of course, as Texas is a big state, it all depends upon where you are. Lack of rain and windy conditions continued to dry out topsoils and stress dryland crops in some areas, but thanks to earlier rains, soil moisture reserves ranged from adequate to high. In other regions, such as the Rolling Plains, things were just fine, with plenty of rain and sunshine, according to reports from AgriLife Extension agents.

Another example was the Coastal Bend area, which got enough rain to flood some fields. In the North, after a winter and spring that made it too wet to get into fields, it was too dry in some counties to make hay, too wet in others.

However, most of East Texas remained dry, with many counties behind by 6 inches or more in long-term averages for the year. Chad Gulley, AgriLife Extension agent for Nacogdoches County, said his area is about 8 inches to 9 inches behind normal for the year.

"We keep having these little showers push through, but they break up and dissipate before they get to us," Gulley said. "It's pretty tough, I've talked to some farmers and ranchers who have been baling some ryegrass hay, and once that is baled, they're not going to be getting a second cutting unless it rains."

Gulley said some ranchers, who came into the year with short hay stocks, were forced to feed hay.

"That's pretty early for us," Gulley said.

In the Tyler area, Bryan Triplett, AgriLife Extension agent for Smith County, said it's pretty much the same story. Long-term average rainfall for the year should be more than 17 inches.

"But we've gotten less than 13 (inches)," Triplett said. "The forage grasses are not growing, and we've got producers looking for hay to feed."

Forages were late coming out of dormancy because of cooler-than-normal weather, he said.

"And when they did come out of dormancy, there was no moisture for them to grow."

In Houston County, east of Lufkin, Jennifer Allen, AgriLife Extension agent, said things were getting severely dry, and producers were getting extremely concerned, not having been able to take a first cutting of warm-season grass hay yet. Then the county got a good two- to three-hour drenching.

"We got just a ton of rain yesterday (May 17)," she said. "I haven't had a chance to see exactly how much we got, but it's going to make a big difference."

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