Memorial Day weekend brought the perfect rainstorms for many
Writer: Robert Burns, 903-834-6191, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEGE STATION – Many areas, some of which were under exceptional drought, received drenching rains over the Memorial Day weekend, greatly improving the prospects for crops and forages, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
Even better, the rains generally came slowly and continued over a period of three or more days, according to regional reports. This meant that flooding and washouts were minimal as the moisture had time to soak in.
“It was just a wonderful rain,” said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension agronomist and Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences associate department head, College Station. “It’ll make a tremendous difference for livestock operations. We’ll grow a lot of grass and hay with this. Much of the High Plains just had no moisture for planting. This one event won’t make a crop, but it’ll get them well on the way.”
Parts of the Panhandle, the South Plains and the Rolling Plains received varying amounts, from as little as 0.5 inch to 6 inches.
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One of the biggest winners was West Central Texas and the San Angelo area, where 11 inches and more were reported.
“Since the first of the year we had 0.85 inch; the driest in a century,” said Steve Byrns, AgriLife Extension communications specialist, San Angelo. “But since Friday (May 23) at my house, I’ve had almost a foot of rain — including 1.5 inches we received last Monday night. What a blessing!”
Miller noted that some areas were passed over. Only the more western counties in South Texas received rain, about 1.5 inches in some cases. In the Rolling Plains, the western counties got about 4 inches, while the eastern half of the region was largely left dry.
But for those who did receive the perfect rain storm, particularly in the High Plains, it came just in time, Miller said, as there’s still time to plant most crops.
“Most everyone will need another rain during the growing season,” he said. “In locations which had heavy, prolonged rains, we may have had enough moisture to fill soil profiles, which will carry crops well towards maturity, although more rain will be needed to make a good crop.”
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: Soil moisture, range and pasture conditions, and crops overall were rated as being in good condition. Livestock were also in good condition. The region had excellent rains during the Memorial Day weekend. The moisture will benefit all crops, improve pastures and help replenish stock-water tanks. Small grains were ready for harvest. Warm-season grasses were coming on. Grasshoppers were seen in high numbers. Soils warmed enough for Bermuda grasses to start actively growing. The wheat harvest was expected to go into full gear as soon as fields dried enough to allow equipment in.
Coastal Bend: Though the region received a few scattered showers, soil moisture remained mostly short. Corn, cotton and grain sorghum were all in good condition. Many producers were seeing the best crop at this time of the growing season than they have seen in a number of years. Some cotton was being sprayed for thrips, mainly due to the slow progress of the crop and the fact that the seed treatment protection has ended. Some sugarcane aphids were observed in high numbers in a few fields in a few areas. Fields were being monitored closely for the pest. Some growers elected to apply an initial treatment for the pest. Weed pressure increased due to the showers, and growers were applying controls. Corn silked. About a third of the sorghum was headed out. Early hay harvests were ongoing, and producers were applying fertilizer to fields in anticipation of wetter weather. Cattle responded rapidly to green grass and nice weather, and looked better than they have in several months.
East: Adequate moisture and warmer weather created good growing conditions throughout the region. Farmers were still planting grain sorghum due to wet field conditions. The wheat crop was 100 percent headed out, with only 60 percent of the crop looking fair. Corn looked good. Blackberry and blueberry growers estimated one-third of the crop was lost due to earlier freezes. Spring vegetables were growing and producing. Producers were baling the last of the cool-season forages to make way for the warm-season forages that recently came out of dormancy. Hay producers were spraying pastures for weeds. Fertilizer dealers in some areas were having a hard time keeping up with demand. Cattle remained in good to excellent condition. Some ranchers were not keeping replacement heifers as the selling price was too high to pass up. Horn flies were getting worse on cattle. Feral hogs were active and moving.
Far West: The region was hot and muggy after from 0.12 inch to 5 inches of rain. Cotton started to emerge in some areas, while growers were just starting to replant in others. The third cutting of alfalfa was being taken. Pecans were growing, and fall onions were in the final bulb stage. Most cattle remained on supplemental feed and were consuming large amounts of minerals.
North: Soil moisture was adequate. Summer pastures perked up and looked good. Wheat was 100 percent headed out and began to turn color in some counties. Corn was growing fast after recent rains. Bermuda grass pastures came out of dormancy. Cool-season grasses were fading. Some producers were taking their first hay cutting of the year. Soybeans emerged and were in good shape. Cattle were in good condition and gaining weight. Grasshoppers were becoming an issue in Hopkins, Kaufman and Titus counties.
Panhandle: The region received from 0.5 inch to as much as 6 inches of rain during a four-to-five day period. Some flooding was reported, but for the most part it was just a good, slow-soaking rain. Soil moisture continued to be very short. Corn, cotton and grain sorghum were being planted. Rangeland was in fair to very poor condition, with most counties reporting poor to very poor. Wheeler County reported improved pastures just a few days after the rains. Supplemental feeding of livestock continued.
Rolling Plains: Some of the western counties in the region received as much as 4 inches of rain, while counties to the east received little to none. The rain fell at the perfect rate, allowing the ground to soak up much of it, but still fast enough so there was runoff to partially fill stock-water tanks and lakes. The rains were expected to improve pastures and provide enough moisture for planting. The wheat harvest was expected to begin as soon as fields become dry. For the counties that missed the rain, conditions remained dry and moisture was needed to fill stock-water tanks and lakes. Livestock were generally in good condition. The peach crop looked good. Pecan growers completed spraying for pecan nut case bearers.
South: Mild to hot temperatures and strong winds continued to be the rule for the region. Parts of the region received some rain. Some northern counties received from 0.5 to 1 inch of rain. The western counties reported from 1 inch to 2 inches. The eastern and southern parts of the region remained dry. In the northern part of the region, harvesting of potatoes and wheat continued, cotton planting was completed, peanut planting began, and some Bermuda grass was cut and baled. Soil moisture ranged from 50 percent adequate to 100 percent short. Supplemental feeding of cattle continued as forage supplies remained short in some areas. In the eastern part of the region, crops were progressing well. Winter wheat was in fair condition, with 100 percent harvested. Corn was in fair condition as was sorghum, and 100 percent of sunflowers were planted. Soil moisture conditions ranged from 80 to 100 percent adequate in Jim Wells County and 60 percent short in Kleberg and Kenedy counties. Cattle inventories remained at an all-time lows. In the western counties, planting was completed, and producers were harvesting Bermuda grass hay. Wheat and onion harvesting were both very active. Cotton and corn continued to develop well with little insect pressure. Wheat producers reported yields to be good to above average. Soil moisture throughout the area was mostly short. In the southern part of the region, crops were progressing well. Soil moisture was 60 percent short in Cameron County, 70 percent short in Starr County, and 60 to 70 percent adequate in Willacy County.
South Plains: The region finally received widespread, significant rainfall. Amounts varied widely, ranging from just under 1 inch to more than 6 inches. There was some flooding of low-lying areas, but with the rain coming during a three-day period, much of the moisture soaked into soils. Many area playa lakes that were dry were filled by runoff. Prior to the rains, about 35 percent of Lubbock County cotton was planted, with about 6 percent of those acres emerged. Cotton planting was expected to resume as soon as the fields dried enough for farmers to get back in. Ranchers were planning on rangeland and pastures to dramatically improve and soon be able to reduce supplemental feeding of cattle.
Southwest: The region received from 1 inch to 4 inches of rain. About a quarter of the area received less than 1 inch; about half more than 1 inch but less than 2; and the remaining areas received 4 inches. The wheat and oat harvests were nearly finished, with yields averaging from five bushels per acre to as much as 18 bushels per acre. Irrigated corn, sorghum and cotton were developing well as growing conditions improved. Livestock should get a boost in improved grazing as a result of the weekend moisture, but supplemental feeding may need to be continued. The forage improvement should also help quail and deer during the next few weeks.
West Central: The region remained warm with mild nights. Dry conditions persisted most of the week. Weekend rains helped replenish soil moisture and fill stock-water tanks. The harvest of wheat and oats neared, but most wheat was being grazed out due to drought. Low yields were expected for wheat harvested for grain. The rains delayed planting of cotton, sunflowers and forage sorghums. Rangeland and pastures were in fair to good condition due to recent rains. Pecans were off to a promising start as growers were treating for first generation case bearers.