Texas crop, weather for Nov. 5, 2013

Pecan crop light but of high quality

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Pecan quality from irrigated orchards should be especially good this year, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Robert Burns.)


Writer: Robert Burns
, 903-834-6191, rd-burns@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – Those who consider pecan pie a -must for Thanksgiving won’t be disappointed this year as the quality of Texas pecans will be high, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

“They should expect to pay a little more, though, as yields are light,” said Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist, Uvalde.

This year’s crop is in contrast to those of 2012 and 2011, noted Stein,
who specializes in pecans, and fruit and vegetable crops. In 2011, drought cut back yields to about half of normal In 2012, insect pressure was so dispersed that a lot of trees that would have not ordinarily set many pecans had such heavy nut loads that limbs were broken and nut quality down.



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Dry weather cut back yields this year, but not to the degree that it did in 2011, and irrigated pecan growers are expecting adequate though not high yields, Stein said.

“This year the crop is much shorter; it’s not that big of a crop across the state,” he said. “There are pecans – it’s not like it’s a total washout, and in certain places there are more pecans than we expected.”

And because drier weather means lower disease problems, the quality should be very good, particularly on irrigated orchards, Stein said, but a lot of factors affect the supply and therefore the price of pecans.

“Where the crop is really short, you’ve got to realize the varmints are all working them hard,” he said. “The crows, squirrels, raccoons, turkey and deer – you name it – are all getting their share right now. And as they say, ‘a short crop always gets shorter and big crop will always get bigger.”

Consumer prices currently are rather high right now, Stein said.

“The market (for growers) appears to be a little soft – there’s not a lot of activity,” he said. “Basically, I expect they (wholesalers) are trying to figure what kind of crop we have across Texas and the rest of the United States. Availability will increase as we approach Thanksgiving.

“But make no mistake: There are pecans across the state and they are available now and for Thanksgiving.”

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:

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Map of the 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Districts

The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Districts

Coastal Bend: The eastern part of the district received significant rains. Pastures improved, but were still not near pre-drought condition. Producers were at a standstill with fieldwork on row crops until soils dry out. Winter crops, including wheat and oats, were emerging if they had been planted before the most recent rains. The pecan harvest was ongoing. Showers in the western part of the region were light but still helpful. Livestock producers continued working cattle. Producers in that part of the region were able to do some fieldwork. The last cuttings of hay were still being taken.

East: Rain was reported over the entire region. Tyler County reported the most, with more than 10 inches in 36 hours, which resulted in widespread flooding. Gregg and Rusk counties received 8 inches, and also reported flooding, soil erosion, uprooted trees and the washing out of low-water crossings. Soil-moisture levels greatly improved from short to adequate — even surplus in some instances. Ponds and lakes were full to overflowing from runoff. Winter forage planting was on hold until fields dried out. Pastures were in good to excellent condition with winter forages coming on strong after the rains. Warm-season forages greened up, but growth was minimal due to the cooler temperatures. Livestock were in good condition. The weaning and selling of market-ready calves and cull cows continued. Feral hogs were on the move after the rains, and damage was increasing

Far West: The area had warm days, cool nights and early morning dews. Some counties received from 0.1 to 0.4 inch of rain. Cotton producers expected to begin harvesting the first week of November. Alfalfa producers were taking the final cutting for the season. Pecan growers were predicting a good harvest this year. Grain sorghum was a week or two away from harvesting. Grass and forbs were in good shape in most of the area, and livestock producers were anticipating some minor relief this fall from supplemental feed costs.

North: Soil moisture levels were adequate. Much of the region received from 1 inch to 4 inches of rain with more forecast. The rain temporarily stopped small grain planting and cotton harvesting, but was very beneficial for winter annual pastures. Camp County reported a lot of voluntary ryegrass. Livestock were in excellent condition and were expected to remain so going into the winter months. Grasshopper pressure seemed to be dropping, but there was still a lot of wild hog activity in Camp County.

Panhandle: Temperatures were seasonal, with mild days and cool mornings. Soil-moisture levels continued to be mostly short. Some isolated areas received small amounts of moisture. The corn and sorghum harvests were ongoing. Most cotton was yet to be harvested, though producers expected to begin soon many of the fields had harvest aides applied to them before the freeze. Winter wheat growers continued to plant. Winter wheat already planted was in various growth stages, with early plantings up and growing with the help of center pivots, while some dryland fields were emerging or had spotty stands. Rangeland and pastures were in very poor to good condition, with most reporting fair to poor. Most livestock producers completed fall calving and spring weaning. Stocker cattle producers expected to begin placing livestock on winter wheat pastures in the coming weeks. Cow/calf producers began supplemental feeding following several hard freezes.

Rolling Plains: As much as 0.8 inch of rain fell across parts of the region, improving pastures. Winter wheat looked good where there has been moisture in but needed a good rain to continue to growing into the winter. In the areas that did not receive rain, winter wheat planting was slowed. Some wheat producers chose to dry sow, but others will likely wait until moisture is received or to about mid-November, whichever comes first. Hay fields also improved where there was rain, and some producers hoped to get one more cutting. Stock tanks and area lakes still needed runoff water. Cotton harvesting was underway, with yields on irrigated fields a little above average. Dryland yields were expected to be below average. Grain sorghum was nearly completely harvested. Livestock were generally in good condition. The pecan harvest was underway, with light yields but mostly high quality.

South: Light, scattered showers occurred throughout the region, keeping rangeland and pastures in good to very good condition. However, cooler nighttime and mild daytime temperatures halted warm-season forage growth. Rainfall in the northern and eastern parts of the region was mostly light, though La Salle County reported 2.25 inches and Cotulla County, 1.2 inches. Jim Wells and Kleberg Counties did not receive any rain. Most of the western counties also did not receive rain, with Willacy County being the exception, getting about 1 inch. Soil-moisture levels were 40 to 100 percent adequate in the northern part of the region, 50 percent adequate in most of the eastern counties. Willacy and Cameron counties had 50 to 100 percent short soil moisture, and Starr County, 50 percent adequate. In Atascosa and Frio counties, growers were harvesting peanuts and finishing planting wheat and oats. In Maverick and Zavala counties, producers were baling coastal Bermuda grass hay. Wheat and oats there had emerged and were in good condition. Also in Zavala County, growers were busy harvesting cabbage, finishing planting wheat and cutting late-planted corn for silage. In Cameron County, fall crops were progressing well, while producers continued harvesting sugarcane, irrigating vegetables and preparing land for spring planting. In Starr County, fall crops also progressed well and hay baling continued.

South Plains: Only Garza County reported rain, and then only light showers. The harvesting of peas and corn was finished in some areas. Most grain sorghum was mature enough to be harvested. Dryland cotton growers were waiting for a killing freeze, but most irrigated cotton was already defoliated and being harvested. Many cotton gins employed a nightshift to keep up with the harvest. Cotton producers were surprised and pleased with yields ranging from one to three bales per acre. Winter wheat growers were still planting. Rangeland and pastures were mostly in fair to good condition, but rain was needed to promote growth of cool-season grasses. Livestock were mostly in good condition.

Southeast: Many counties caught up on rain, with as much as 4 inches reported, and flooding in some areas. Orange County had some light tornado damage along with heavy rains. For the first time in years, Montgomery County reported it received enough rain to get runoff. Some ponds there were starting to fill up. The soil moisture conditions in that county were bought up to adequate to surplus. Rangeland and pasture were good to excellent condition. Walker County reported 100 percent surplus soil-moisture levels with rangeland and pasture fair to good. In Burleson County, armyworms continued to infest many fields. Soil moisture there was 100 percent surplus, but rangeland and pasture levels remained in very poor to fair condition. In Chambers County, some first crop rice was still to be harvested — if the crop finishes. Rangeland and pastures were good to excellent. In Galveston County, heavy rains might result in the loss or reduction of a last cutting of hay.

Southwest: Rain continued to benefit rangeland and pastures in some areas. Winter wheat and oats were also in good condition. Livestock conditions remain good overall. Livestock producers were providing supplemental feed and hay to cattle. Bachelor bunches of buck deer broke up and were in pre-rut season. Sheep and goats were doing well with the fall flush of forbs.

West Central: Weather was mild, with cool nights and warm days. Some counties reported scattered showers. Most areas had adequate soil moisture due to recent rains. The cotton harvest was underway in many areas. Some cotton producers delayed harvest due to wet conditions, but harvesting was expected to be in full swing in first or second week of November. Yields from early harvest reports were good. Early planted wheat was off to a good start, though more recently planted wheat was showing some little signs of drought stress in some instances. Producers were finishing up some late season hay harvesting. Small-grain planting continued. Rangeland and pastures were in very good condition. Unseasonably warm weather improved warm-season grass growth, allowing for continued grazing of livestock. Winter grasses and forages were just beginning to emerge. Most areas needed a heavy rainfall and the resultant runoff to fill stock tanks and lakes. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. There were no reports of supplemental feeding being needed due to good growth in pastures for grazing. The pecan harvest was underway, with moderate yields reported.

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