“There will be some dryland crops harvested in Texas,” said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension program leader and associate department head of the Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences department, College Station. “The best areas are going to be from Corpus (Christi) north to Victoria and along the coast a little ways; and then from Hill County north and east.”
Miller predicted cotton yields in the area from Corpus Christi to Victoria will be in the 350- to 400-pound-per-acre range. Sorghum yields were reported as being in the 3,000- to 3,700-pound range, while corn yields were about 35- to 40-bushels per acre.
But the situation varied widely not just from one region to another, but county to county, he said.
“If you get a little farther north, say to Matagorda County, they just missed those rains, and there’s some 25- to 30-bushel corn,” Miller said. “Then Hill County and to the north had some pretty good rains. I think there was some 75-bushel corn, and I believe there will be 3,800- to 4,000-pound sorghum. With the current price scenario, they can probably do a little better than break even on that.”
But for most of the state, the dryland situation was just plain dismal, he said. From Uvalde (South Central Texas) north to Spearman (the upper Panhandle), nearly all dryland crops have failed, he said. There is not going to be much of anything harvested on dryland fields in the southwest Texas area, the Edwards Plateau, the Rolling Plains and the High Plains.
It almost looks desert-like, he said.
“You can’t even tell they planted anything,” Miller said.
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/ .
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:Central: The region remained very hot and dry. Local livestock auction sales were at record high levels. Sales included more than just calves and cull cows; a large portion was of bred, medium-aged cows. Trees showed extreme drought stress. Hay supplies were short, with most buys being trucked in from six to 12 hours away. Some stock ponds dried up. Farmers were cutting corn and milo stalks for hay.
Coastal Bend: There was no rain or relief from above-normal temperatures, drying winds and the drought. The cotton harvest was under way.
East: Daytime temperatures remained in the triple digits. The region received little to no rain, and pastures continued to worsen. What little rain some areas received quickly evaporated due to the heat. Water levels of creeks and ponds dropped further. Some producers completely liquidated their herds, while others were hauling water for livestock. Many producers had only one cutting of hay this year. Grasshoppers remained a problem.
Far West: Widely scattered showers brought from 0.15 to 0.5 inch of moisture, which helped new weeds and grasses emerge. Lightning from the storms also ignited a few fires. Only some irrigated cotton was in good condition, and it began squaring. Alfalfa growers were taking a third cutting. Pecans initiated nut growth and entered the water stage. Insect pressure on crops was low due to the dry conditions. Locoweed and twinleaf senna were beginning to appear but there were no reports of animal consumption. Burn bans remained in effect across the district.
North: Soil-moisture levels were short throughout the region. Triple-digit temperatures continued to take a toll on every aspect of agriculture. Crops were burning up. Pastures were going downhill fast. Some ranchers continued to provide supplemental feed or hay, but most were thinning or liquidating herds. Hay prices spiked, and supplies were short. Extra hay may be needed to make it through the winter if rain is not received soon. In some areas, the stock ponds were getting very low. The corn harvest just began, but there were no reports of yields to date. There were reports of high aflatoxin levels in harvested corn. The oat harvest was completed, and sunflower planting was finished. Rangeland was in poor condition, but there was some cutting of Johnson grass. Forage production was dismal. Soybeans began to turn color, and needed rain soon.
Panhandle: Hot, dry and windy weather continued. A few southeastern counties received some moisture in isolated areas, but accumulations weren’t significant. Soil-moisture levels in most counties were very poor. Water-demand by crops was very high, and irrigators continued to divert water to other crops and fewer acres. Corn was in poor to very poor condition. Mite populations in corn were rising because of the hot, windy conditions. Cotton was in poor to very poor condition in most counties. Rangeland and pastures further declined. Reduction of herds by producers was ongoing.South: Soil-moisture levels were very short throughout most of the region with the exception of parts of Atascosa, Kleberg, Zapata and Hidalgo counties, where they were 50 to 60 percent adequate. There were light, scattered showers in some northern and western counties, but not enough to help make a difference. Daytime temperatures continued to rise and add heat stress to rangeland and pastures already in poor condition. Livestock producers increased supplemental feeding of cattle, using emergency feeds such as prickly pear in some instances. High evaporation and water-consumption rates caused stock-water tank levels to rapidly decline, and producers further culled herds. In Frio County, the corn harvest was in full swing, the sorghum harvest began and peanuts were pegging. In Jim Wells County, corn yields were marginal at 20 to 25 bushels per acre, as were grain sorghum yields at 2,000 to 2,500 pounds per acre. Producers also began harvesting cotton in that area, with yields predicted to average about 500 pounds per acre. In Kleberg and Kenedy counties, the sorghum harvest was completed, with yields averaging 3,500 pounds per acre. The cotton harvest was also in full swing in those counties. In Live Oak County, the corn and grain sorghum harvests were completed, as was about 50 percent of the cotton. In Zavala County, 60 percent of cotton was opening bolls, the corn harvest was ongoing and the sorghum harvesting was completed. In Cameron County, the corn and cotton harvests were under way.
South Plains: Parts of the district received as much as 5 inches of rain. However, most of the region remained dry with only spotty showers and temperatures in the upper 90s to 100s. Winds were moderate. Some corn was being harvested early for silage because irrigation systems could not meet the crop’s water demands. Some cotton growers opted to abandon half of pivot circles to concentrate the available water on the other half in hopes of making some crop rather than none. Cattle were still being sold off due to lack of forage availability and empty stock-water tanks. Most cotton still under irrigation was blooming.
Southeast: Two weeks of extreme heat took a toll on livestock and any existing grasses. Many water tanks and ponds dried up. Groundwater supplies were running low. Producers were pumping and hauling water where windmills couldn’t keep up with livestock demands or well levels dropped. In some areas, there were light, scattered showers.
Southwest: Thunderstorms brought from a trace to nearly three-quarters of an inch of rain in parts of the region. Mid-afternoon temperatures were above 100 degrees, which aggravated the drought. Wildfire alerts remained in place. Stock tanks were dry, and forage availability remained well below average for July. The National Weather Service continued to forecast a gradual weather improvement, but almost no rainfall was received. The corn, sorghum and grape harvests were almost completed. The watermelon, cantaloupe and sweet corn harvests wound down. Peanuts, cotton, pecans and landscape nursery crops continued to make good progress wherever irrigation water was still available. Ranchers continued to provide supplemental feed to livestock.
West Central: Weather conditions were unchanged. Days were extremely hot, dry and windy with no rain forecast. Most of the region’s crops were in dryland and all failed. Almost all sorghum was abandoned, and hay was in very short supply. Rangeland and pastures further declined. Water sources were drying up. Producers continued to reduce herds. Some were selling out entirely. Pecans did not look good.