Since early October, the Rolling Plains, Central and North regions received the most rain, with accumulations of 6 inches and more, with 2 to 3 inches common, according to the National Weather Service’s daily precipitation analysis. San Antonio and surrounding counties received 2 inches or more. With a few exceptions, the rest of the state received from a trace to about 2 inches.
Where the rains were substantial, the agricultural benefits were great, replenishing livestock water tanks and ponds, and encouraging farmers to plant winter forages and prepare fields for fall planting.
However, the general consensus from AgriLife Extension county agents was that much more rain is needed to sustain winter crops.
“Rainfall received this week was from 0.5 inch to more than 1 inch across the county,” said Greg Jones, AgriLife Extension agent in Garza County, southeast of Lubbock. “The rainfall will help for a short period of time, but additional rainfall will be needed. Small-grain crops will emerge with current moisture but will not be sustained.”
“Most of the county received 1 inch to 2 inches of rain this week,” said Steven Sparkman, AgriLife Extension agent in Hardeman County, northwest of Wichita Falls. “This is the first rain in a year, measuring over an inch at one time for most of the county. Wheat producers will wait several days for volunteer wheat and weeds to come up then spray to kill it and plant the 2012 wheat crop. … This rain was nice, but leaves us about 18 inches below normal.”
“After a good rain this past weekend, farmers are firing up tractors and grain drills to get wheat planting under way,” said Justin Gilliam, AgriLife Extension agent in Archer County, south of Wichita Falls. “While some farmers are having to replant, most are just now putting seed in the ground. Tanks and streams are all at least half full, while some are overflowing.”
“We got rain last weekend. Most areas received 1 inch to 5 inches,” said Scott Anderson, AgriLife Extension agent in Brown County, southwest of Fort Worth. “Most stock tanks caught some water; some filled up. There was increased field activity: plowing and planting small-grain fields. Most pastures will not be able to grow much grass or forage due to cooler nighttime temps.”
“The county receive from 3 to 7 inches of rainfall over the weekend, but there was no runoff water, and stock water is still a grave concern,” said David Winkler, AgriLife Extension agent in Bosque County, between Dallas and Waco.
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: Most of the region received significant rainfall during the last two weeks. But with the cooler temperatures there was very little warm-season grass growth and forage supplies remained low. Topsoil moisture was good, but deep-soil moisture was still a concern.
Coastal Bend: A few areas received 2 to 4 inches of rain, but the drought continued. Producers were skeptical about planting winter annuals such as wheat, oats and ryegrass unless additional moisture is received. As grass was scarce and hay hard to find, livestock producers continued to sell cattle or feed supplements. Some farmers were light plowing. Most counties needed an additional 6 to 8 inches of rain to bring subsoil moisture to adequate levels. Most farm ponds were still empty or nearly so.
East: Some parts of the region received as much as 3 inches of rain while others remained dry. Temperatures were above average. Producers continued to reduce cattle numbers and purchase hay from out of state. Some were preparing to plant winter pastures, hoping for more rain. Reports of armyworms on pastures increased.
Far West: The area received scattered light rains, with accumulations from a trace to 0.2 inch, accompanied by cooler temperatures. Much of Glasscock County was the exception, receiving 2 inches of rain, which halted cotton harvesting for a few days. Other area cotton producers were defoliating cotton and servicing pickers. Some chilies were harvested with yields better than expected. Ranchers continued selling cattle due to very dry pastures and troubles finding hay to buy. Most cattle remaining were in poor to fair condition. The wildfire danger was still high, and burn bans remained in effect. Two days of 30-40 mph winds blew pecans out of trees, but a light to fair crop was still expected if the weather cooperates.
North: Some counties received from 0.5 inch to 3 inches of rain, but soil moisture generally remained short to very short. Many farmers were planting small grains, while ranchers planted winter annual pastures, and these crops emerged after the rains. Livestock feeding continued. Conditions for livestock producers were still very critical. The rain soaked in rather than ran off to fill stock ponds. Armyworms were reported in parts of Kaufman County. Feral hogs continued to be a major problem. Fly populations increased.
Panhandle: Some areas received from a trace to 3 inches of rain. Soil moisture was very short to adequate, with most counties reporting very short to short. The corn harvest was ongoing. The cotton harvest was under way with the crop reported to be in fair to poor condition. Producers continued planting wheat. Most rangeland and pastures were in very poor condition, with livestock producers continuing to provide supplemental feed.
Rolling Plains: Timely rains encouraged wheat growers to plant. Hardeman County reported 1 inch of rain, its first substantial rain since last September. Encouraged by the rain, producers prepared to plant fall forages. Stock tank levels increased significantly in some counties. The rains also greened up pastures a little. Livestock remained in poor to fair condition, but ranchers now had an optimistic outlook with the greened-up pastures and winter wheat crops looking good. The cotton harvest was halted on defoliated fields after the rains. One county reported that what little cotton was left was disastered-out for insurance last week. Producers were turning cattle in on the disastered-out cotton as it was about the only feed left. Livestock producers were buying hay from out of state.
South: Some counties received rain, greening up rangeland and pastures, but overall there was not enough to improve soil-moisture levels. Soil moisture remained very short throughout most counties. The exceptions were Atascosa and Zapata counties, where they were reported as being adequate because of rains a couple of weeks ago. Webb, Dimmit and Zapata counties reported from 1.5 to 5 inches. Although some stock tanks were partially filled by runoff, lack of water remained a concern for most ranchers. Hay was still in short supply, and livestock producers continued culling herds. In Frio County, farmers began harvesting peanuts and planting wheat and oats. Green bean planting was complete in that county, with most of the crop emerging. In Maverick County, farmers were plowing and tilling land and some were planting some winter crops. In Zavala County, early-planted spinach was 100-percent emerged. In Hidalgo County, farmers were irrigating fall crops, planting onions and harvesting early oranges and sugarcane. Also in that area, hay harvesting continued on irrigated land.
South Plains: Several counties received significant rains, from 0.5 inch to 3 inches. There was enough rain to bring up winter wheat, but more will be needed to sustain the crop. Cotton growers were applying harvest aids or were already harvesting. Most cotton that was harvested had yields lower than expected.
Southwest: The district received from 0.5 inch to 6 inches of rain, but pastures remained barren and dryland farming operations were still at a standstill. Livestock producers continued to reduce herds as forage was in short supply. Cooler nighttime temperatures prevailed.
West Central: Days were warm with much cooler nights. Most areas reported good rains, and some counties lifted burn bans. Farmers increased field activities, including planting preparations. Wheat and oat planting was expected to begin soon. Rangeland and pastures showed some greening up after the rains. The lower nighttime temperatures prevented most grasses and forages from growing. Many livestock producers continued liquidating herds. Other producers continued to look for feed and hay sources. Runoff from the rains helped fill many stock tanks that had gone dry during the drought. Some pecan growers began harvesting.