COLLEGE STATION – AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries for the week of June 8–15:
Central: The region had scattered showers, which improved the outlook for all crops. However, more rain was needed to fill stock ponds. Corn was looking great. The wheat harvest and other field work was well underway. Sunflower fields were in full bloom. Grasshoppers were abundant, seemingly worse than last year. There was evidence of some second-generation pecan nut casebearer activity.
Coastal Bend: Intermittent showers fell across the reporting area, but probably came too late for row crops. Corn and sorghum yields will certainly be affected. Many producers did not replant cotton, and what did come up did not have enough moisture to develop. Although grazing conditions improved, cattle numbers remained very low. Ranchers were cautious about restocking. Producers were taking good hay cuttings. Ponds remained low or dry in many areas.
East: Recent rains continued to improve grass growth in a few counties, but most of the region needed rain as high temperatures continued to dry out pastures. Warm-season grass was being cut for hay. Producers reported increasing grasshopper populations and were spraying to control them. They were also applying herbicides to control weeds in hay fields and pastures. Vegetable and blackberry growers continued harvesting and reported good yields. Cattle were in good condition. Horn flies continued to cause problems. Feral hogs were active.
Far West: Some counties received spotty showers, with accumulations from a trace to 2 inches, while others remained rainless. Days were hot, humid and windy. Cotton producers finished planting. Ranchers were almost done with spring branding and were weaning calves early due to poor pasture conditions.
Panhandle: The region had record-setting heat and windy weather. Most areas received some rain, with amounts ranging from a trace to 2 inches. Soil-moisture levels continued to be mostly very poor to poor. Irrigators were actively pumping. Wheat was mostly in very poor to poor condition. Corn was mostly in fair to good condition, while cotton was rated mostly fair to good. Thrips on cotton were a concern where no seed treatment was used prior to planting. Rangeland and pastures continued to be in mostly very poor condition. The extreme heat was hard on livestock, impacting both feedlot performance and milk production. Livestock producers reported death losses on spring calves because of the heat.
Rolling Plains: Temperatures rose as the wheat harvest continued. Yield reports varied from nearly nothing to 45 bushels per acre. This wide difference of yields reflected varying weather conditions, planting dates and variety choices throughout the growing season. Most, if not all, of the winter wheat was harvested in some form or another, either as grain, for grazing or as hay. Cotton growers were planting. Some were waiting for rain while others were taking advantage of rain a week ago. The big issue was water. Some producers weren’t very optimistic they would get the needed rains through the growing season to carry cotton to harvest, so they were cautious about planting. During the last two weeks, recent rains in some areas greened up rangeland and pastures, but lakes and ponds needed more rain in order to carry livestock through the summer. The calves of cows that were held through the drought were being weaned early. Recent rains also helped the bobwhite quail population in northern Jack County.
South: Mild temperatures and scattered showers continued to regularly fall throughout most of the region, improving rangeland, pastures and soil-moisture levels. Accumulations varied from 0.25 inch to as much as 4 inches. Soil-moisture levels varied greatly. Counties in the northern and most of the western parts of the region reported 30 to 100 percent adequate levels — except for the Kleberg/Kenedy area with 80 percent very short. Dimmit and Maverick counties reported 60 to 80 percent surplus levels, while Webb and Zavala counties reported 50 percent short to 100 percent adequate respectively. Counties in the southern parts of the region varied even more in soil-moisture levels. Cameron County reported 75 percent adequate, while Starr County was 80 percent short and Hidalgo County reported 100 percent very short. Peanut planting was in full swing in Atascosa County and ongoing in Frio County. Also in Frio County, the potato harvest continued. Rangeland and pastures improved and summer perennial grasses responded very well to the rain there. Forage supply was still in short supply in the more heavily grazed pastures that usually recover much slower. Late-planted crops in Jim Wells County began to emerge, also as a result of good rains. Unfortunately, the rain came too late for regular-season crops, which were zeroed out for insurance and plowed under. Livestock sales there were at an all-time low, with less than 150 head offered. Duval County also reported a drop in livestock sales. In Maverick County, Bermuda grass and other forages continued to be harvested for hay to be sold. In Zavala County, corn and cotton progressed well without irrigation. The rains gave livestock producers there some relief as all rangeland and pasture conditions improved. Producers were able to decrease supplemental feeding and lighten up culling of cattle herds. In Cameron County, corn was turning color and was nearly ready for harvest in some fields. In Hidalgo County, producers were preparing to harvest grain sorghum.
South Plains: The region had scattered showers with the chance of more next week. Many AgriLife Extension county offices were still receiving damage reports from the June 5 hailstorm. Bailey County reported from 2,500 to 3,000 acres of cotton lost. Most counties were still waiting to hear from adjusters. Lamb County reported some cotton producers had to replant. Garza County reported as much as 2 inches of rain. Crops, rangeland and pastures will need more moisture as the season progresses, but the recent rains raised producer optimism. Some thrips damage was reported in cotton, but it was mostly below economic threshold levels for treatment. Cochran County peanuts improved with the rains despite the hail that accompanied the rain.
Southeast: Hot weather reigned throughout the district, and though some areas received rain, more was needed to maintain soil moisture. Montgomery County rains helped promote a second cutting of hay. A variety of insects have started feeding on pasture and landscape plants. Forages were also growing well in Walker County. In Chambers County, most of the rice looked good. As always, there were issues with too much water or ducks, and a lot of rice needed to be replanted. Some organic rice still needed be planted. The first rice crop was expected to be harvested in late July or early August due to earlier-than-normal planting dates, even with the slow start from cool weather. Recent hot weather really accelerated the rice growth. In Orange County, high temperatures were drying out soils, but forage growth was only slightly impacted.
Southwest: From 1.5 to 8 inches of rain was reported throughout the region. Livestock, wildlife, rangeland, pastures and row crops continued to improve. Cotton improved to fair or good condition in some areas. Harvested hay was of good quality with high yields. River and creek levels were still low but were slowly improving rising. Much more rain was still needed to bring the area out of drought.
West Central: Days remained hot and humid with mild nights. Many areas reported scattered showers. Cotton planting was in full swing, and producers were expected to finish as soon as crop-insurance planting deadlines neared. Grain sorghum and forage sorghum improved. Hay harvests were underway. The wheat harvest continued with below-average yields. Late-summer annual Sudan grass forages were being planted. Rangeland and pastures continued to improve with the recent rains. Another factor in pastures was the reduction in livestock herds and subsequent lower grazing pressure. Warm-season grasses and forbs continued to green up as well. Some ponds and livestock tanks caught much-needed runoff from recent rains, but most still remained critically low. Some livestock producers were hauling water. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Late-season peaches were being harvested.
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/ .