More rain stimulates planting
Writer: Robert Burns, 903-834-6191, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEGE STATION — Nearly all of Texas continued to receive rain after Memorial Day storms, further improving the prospects of spring crop plantings and existing pastures and rangeland, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service reports from throughout the state.
In some areas, accumulations were heavy. From May 27 through June 10, some parts of the Coastal Bend and East Texas received 8 inches or more of rain, according to the National Weather Service’s precipitation analysis.
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Amounts were less for other parts of the state, according to the analysis, but 2- to 4-inch totals were common throughout the Rolling Plains, South Plains and Panhandle.
Despite the rains, extreme to exceptional drought conditions persisted throughout the plains regions, while Central Texas remained in the grip of severe to moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
But condition reports from AgriLife Extension county agents showed planting continuing and crops progressing. Warmer weather in conjunction with the moisture improved pasture and rangeland as well, and stimulated the growth of warm-season annual grasses. In some instances, farmers who had been holding off planting in dry soil were rushing to meet crop insurance deadlines.
“We are getting close to being done with planting,” said Tom Yeater, AgriLife Extension agent for Howard County, northeast of Midland. “Area farmers have been burning the diesel this past week trying to get all the planting done by June 10 for insurance. So far so good.”
Mark Brown, AgriLife Extension agent for Lubbock County, reported, “Producers worked hard this week to complete 2014 planting operations. The vast majority of cotton fields were planted by the June 5 insurance planting deadline. Rainfall amounts for June 7 ranged from 1 to 2 inches across the county.”
From AgriLife Extension in Scurry County, Gregory Gruben reported, “Cotton planting really got going this week, producers are planting as fast as they can. We have a chance of rain this weekend. We will see what happens, but we still need more rainfall.”
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 for the week of June 3 to 9:
Central: Soil moisture, rangeland, pastures and crops were all mostly rated good. Farmers were busy planting remaining fields and applying fertilizer thanks to moisture received since Memorial Day weekend. The small-grain harvest began, but the Memorial Day rains didn’t come in time for dryland small-grain fields and they were plowed under or harvested for forage. The wheat harvest began, but was stalled by early June rains. Pecan trees were loaded with developing nuts, which will need more moisture to mature. Corn was tasselling and looked good. Sorghum and pastures also looked good. Livestock were in good condition across the region. Runoff water for ponds was still needed.
Coastal Bend: Despite the rains of two weeks ago, pasture conditions were once again reported as good to poor throughout the region. Good to fair were the most common rangeland ratings. The exception was Fayette County, where poor to very poor conditions were reported. Fayette County also reported low topsoil moisture while most counties reported topsoil moisture as being mostly adequate. Daytime temperatures were rising fast, and along with recent rains, crops and warm-season forages were progressing well. Some producers applied pesticides for sugarcane aphids on sorghum. Work on establishing economic thresholds for treatment for the aphids, as well as alternative controls, continued. Many forage producers were harvesting hay. Beef producers began brush control practices where the ground was dry enough. Farmers were spraying cotton for fleahoppers and broadleaf weeds. Where fields remained too wet to run ground spray rigs, some producers opted for aerial applications.
East: Growing conditions were favorable throughout the region with the exception of Trinity County, where erosion problems due to excess rain were reported. Warm-season fruits and vegetables were starting to show up in local markets. The harvesting of blueberries and blackberries was ongoing. Hay production was in full swing, with good quality and quantity reported. Annual weeds emerged in full force, and producers were busy applying chemical controls as well as fertilizing pastures. Smith County reported disease and insect issues on vegetables, lawns and trees. Beef cattle were in good to excellent condition. Horn fly numbers continued to be on the increase, and some producers were using control methods.
Far West: The region was dry, windy and hot, with temperatures at or above 100 degrees all week. Area farmers were rushing to get all the planting done by June 10 for the crop insurance deadline. Fall-planted onions were nearly ready for harvest. Alfalfa growers took a third cutting. Pecans were developing, and cotton was at the four-leaf stage. Area ranchers still needed more rain, but grasses had greened up and were at least trying to grow. Some livestock producers were working late-calving herds. They also continued to provide supplemental feed to cattle.
North: Topsoil moisture ranged from short to adequate. Temperatures were warmer, with daytime highs in the low 90s. Winds of 10 to 15 mph diminished soil moisture. A few counties received rain, but only an inch at best. Collin County farmers were preparing to harvest wheat and oats. Corn, grain sorghum and soybeans looked good. Hay producers were trying to finish bailing early season grasses. Most hybrid Bermuda grass meadows neared being ready for the first hay harvest. Pastures were generally in good condition. Livestock were in good condition across all counties. Grasshoppers were reported in Hopkins County. Feral hogs continued to be an issue in Morris County, and mosquitoes were a big problem in Titus County.
Panhandle: Most of the region again received some much-needed moisture. Amounts ranged from 0.35 inch to as much as 4 inches in some areas. Temperatures were slightly above average for the week. Soil moisture varied from very short to adequate, with most areas reporting adequate. Deaf Smith County producers finished up planting and preparing for a short wheat harvest. Producers were running irrigation pumps hard and fast on the early plantings of corn. Cotton began to emerge, and most grain sorghum had emerged and looked good. With warmer weather and rain, rangeland and pastures greened up some. However, some grass stands had not yet recovered from the drought, and range and pastures were rated as being in poor condition for the most part. The condition of cattle improved. Horn flies became a problem after recent rains.
Rolling Plains: The region received more rain, and some runoff was caught in stock water tanks. Livestock remained in generally good to excellent condition in the western part of the district. However, drier conditions in the eastern counties meant further culling or destocking of herds by producers. Most rangeland and pastures were in good condition. Pecans and peaches were benefiting from the moisture. Producers were working hard at harvesting wheat. Yields were low: five to 20 bushels an acre. Cotton was in good condition as the added moisture promoted good germination. Early planted cotton was at the two-leaf stage. Some counties lifted burn bans.
South: Hot, dry and windy conditions persisted with hardly any rainfall except for very light showers in Live Oak County. But the good rains of the previous week continued to improve range, pastures and crops in most parts of the region. Most of the counties in the north part of the region reported short soil moisture. The exception was Atascosa County, where soil moisture was 80 to 100 percent adequate. Peanut planting was in full swing, and hay was being harvested. The wheat and oats harvests were completed, and the potato and watermelon harvests ongoing. Cattle were being shipped in preparation for the upcoming summer heat. Herd numbers continued to drop. In the eastern part of the region, soil moisture ranged from 60 to 100 percent adequate to 50 to 90 percent short. Eighty percent of corn was silking. Sorghum was also in good condition, with 5 percent of the crop coloring. Cotton was in good condition. In the western part of the region, soil moisture was short. The dry conditions meant irrigation pumps were constantly running on corn, cotton and sorghum fields. Dryland crops remained in fair to good condition thanks to earlier rains. Onion harvesting was completed with cabbage harvesting ongoing. In Webb County, higher evaporation rates and triple-digit heat were drying out stock water tanks. Surface water supplies for livestock were short on most local ranches in that area. Ranchers were culling lightly and restocking slowly. In the southern part of the region, good to fair soil moisture and warm weather meant crops were in good condition. Cotton was doing well. All corn was silking. Forty percent of sorghum was coloring, with 90 percent of the crop headed. In Starr County, growers were harvesting cantaloupe and honeydew melons. Livestock were in fair condition.
South Plains: Counties reported from 1.3 to 3 inches. Hail accompanied the rain in some areas. Hail damaged young cotton in Hockley County. Lynn County also reported significant hail damage. Lubbock County reported pea- to baseball-sized hail fell on June 7. The worst damage appeared to be in the southwest part of the county, where wind speeds of 96 mph were reported. The degree of damage was yet to be determined because only 65 percent of the cotton had emerged. Swisher County farmers were having to replant due to flooding.
Southeast: With recent rains, most counties reported good pasture conditions. Grass was growing rapidly with the warmer temperatures. The rains also significantly improved dryland corn and cotton. Corn was silking. Most counties reported all grain sorghum was planted and doing well. Livestock were in good condition as well. Although the rain was welcomed, it delayed the last little rice to be planted in Chambers County and the completion of wheat harvest in Brazos County. Also, hay harvesting was slowed by the rain. Grasshopper numbers were increasing, and there was concern they would soon start to impact forage growth in pastures and hay fields.
Southwest: Rangeland and pastures began to show signs of improvement from the good rains receive the last week of May. Warm-season grasses were growing well for the first time this year. There were some reports of sugarcane aphids in grain sorghum. Producers were scouting for the aphids and spraying as needed. Irrigated cotton and sorghum were in good condition. Livestock continued to need supplemental feed. Many stock water tanks were nearly full or at capacity after the rains.
West Central: Days were hot and humid since the rain, and nearly all areas were showing improvement. The warm temperatures, sunshine and adequate soil moisture increased forage and grass growth. Burn bans were lifted as the danger of wildfire lessened. Farmers continued preparing fields and planting. Cotton planting was in full swing as field conditions allowed. As fields dried out, the harvesting of small grains resumed. The wheat harvest was almost complete. Sunflowers and early planted sorghum were in good condition. Rangeland and pastures looked better than they had in a long time. Flies and mosquitoes were a big issue due to wet conditions.