Texas crop, weather for July 1, 2014

Fall pecan crop estimated to be about 50 million to 55 million pounds

Pecan trees  have male and female flowers, and both can be damaged by frost and freeze, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts. This picture, taken south of Stephenville on May 5, shows browning from a late April freeze to terminal tips where the female flowers are found. The long, pollen-bearing catkins shown survived or were only partially damaged. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Monte Nesbitt)

Pecan trees have male and female flowers, and both can be damaged by frost and freeze, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts. This picture, taken south of Stephenville on May 5, shows browning from a late April freeze to terminal tips where the female flowers are found. The long, pollen-bearing catkins shown survived or were only partially damaged. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Monte Nesbitt)

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

COLLEGE STATION – Because of significant damage from an April freeze along with other factors, it’s become difficult to estimate the size of the Texas pecan crop, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts.

But that doesn’t stop Monte Nesbitt, AgriLife Extension pecan and fruit specialist, College Station, from “going out on a limb,” and predicting a total Texas crop of 50 million to 55 million pounds.

These production levels, along with increased demand by Asian markets, will probably mean continued high prices for retail consumers this fall, especially for shelled pecans, he said.



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Yield projections used to be much easier, according to Nesbitt. Pecan production used to vary from heavy one year to light the next year, then back to heavy, with the cycle repeating.

“Prior to 2009, we would look at a heavy year to be about 70 million to 75 million pounds total for the state, and we would expect 30 million pounds to be a weak production year,” he said. “The last two or three years, we’ve vacillated in the 35 million to 45 million pound range, and that’s been made up by some good production and some bad production across the state. So we’re kind of averaging out to the middle-of-the-range production, which would be 50 million pounds, and that’s what I expect this year.”

This year’s April freeze damaged pecans in the Panhandle, Far West Texas out to Fort Stockton, portions of the Midland/Odessa area and even into Central Texas, Nesbitt said.

“There was some regrowth after that, which included some new flowers, but there were questions of the pollination sequence being a little bit thrown off,” he said. “You overlay that with what we’ve had the last three years, which is drought and other problems in various parts of the state, and we’re in a pattern of ‘un-synchronicity,’ where we don’t have a true on-year or off-year.”

As for prices, the pecan market “is often a mystery to pecan growers themselves,” Nesbitt said. “But we expect very volatile wholesale prices, with prices very strong early in the season and extremely volatile later in the pecan marketing season.”

The June estimates for the overall U.S. pecan crop was 256 million pounds, Nesbitt noted.

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:

The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Districts

The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Districts

Central: Thanks to abundant rains in June, rangelands were recovering. Some counties received as much as 10 inches of rain in the last week. However, weed competition was hindering recovery. Hay meadows, pastures and crops were looking very good. Livestock were also in good condition across the region. Water for stock ponds was still a concern in many locations, and the wet weather left lots of cut hay laying on the ground to cure. Though the rains went a long way to help crops and forages and refill stock-water tanks and creeks, the region remained behind normal rainfall for the year. Grasshoppers continued to be an issue in pastures and were beginning to move into corn and sorghum fields. Pecans had the heaviest nut set in several years, and already branches were being stressed with the load. Producers will have to thin the crop. Bees were swarming in high numbers. There were a few problems at pollination due to weather-related issues, but for the most part corn looked great. Producers continued to scout for sugarcane aphids in sorghum. Prior to the rains, they were spraying for aphids. Currently, headworms and other insect problems were on the rise, and producers may spray for many insects and not sugarcane aphids alone.

Coastal Bend: Most of the district received rain. Crops looked better than they have in years. Grain crops were being scouted for headworms and stinkbug activity. The grain sorghum harvest began in some areas, but was interrupted by rain. Cotton was in full bloom and expected to greatly benefit from the rains. Pastures should respond quickly as well. Cattle numbers were still low with market prices at historic highs.

East: Rain helped growing conditions in parts of the region. Rainfall amounts ranged from zero to 5.5 inches. Ponds and small lakes were full to overflowing. Rain halted hay harvesting in several counties. Some producers were working around the rain to get the hay baled so they could spray for weeds. Houston County reported the wet weather was interfering with cotton planting and that some corn was yellowing due to standing water in fields. Vegetable disease problems were also an issue due to continual cloudy and rainy weather. However, the vegetable and fruit harvests continued to be strong with good quality. Farmers markets were doing good business. Armyworms were reported in some areas. Cattle were in good to excellent condition. Horn fly populations were increasing rapidly. Grasshoppers continued to be a problem in Henderson County. Feral hogs were active.

Far West: Conditions remained hot and mostly dry throughout the district, with a few counties reporting storms with spotty showers. Culberson County reported 0.5 inch to 1.8 inches; Glasscock County 0.2 to 1 inch; and Presidio 2 to 4 inches. High winds accompanied the storms. Cotton continued to struggle in many areas, but crop conditions were good in El Paso County. Pastures improved, but burn bans in most counties were still in effect. Producers continued to supply supplemental feed for wildlife and livestock.

North: Topsoil moisture throughout the region was short to adequate. All but Lamar and Fannin counties reported between 1 inch to 3 inches of rain. Crops were in good condition. The wheat harvest was about 90 percent complete. Bermuda grass pastures were in the best condition seen for years. Livestock were in good condition. Hopkins County reported high grasshopper populations. Titus County reported increases of horn flies on livestock.

Panhandle: Temperatures were near or below average all week. Thunderstorms brought rain, from a trace to as much as 3 inches in isolated areas. Hail and high winds accompanied the storms in some areas. Soil moisture was rated mostly short to adequate. High winds in Collingsworth County caused sand burn on some cotton. Farmers were using tillage tools to make clods and try to save the crop from further sand burns. Deaf Smith County producers were fighting heavy weed infestations — and the weeds were reported to be winning. The recent rains have brought on weed seed that lay dormant for years. With the plentiful rains, the weeds are growing inches a day. In some areas, the hail and high winds wreaked havoc on corn and cotton. Disease and cold temperatures also negatively impacted some cotton. Weeds were also a problem for producers trying to harvest wheat. Some producers were spraying for weeds ahead of combining, while others were trying to get the wheat out before weeds totally took over the crop. The weeds aside, sorghum was looking good, though it was typically more than 10 days behind normal development. Hansford County also reported summer hail damage to cotton and corn. Rangeland and pasture continued to be rated mostly poor to very poor. Ochiltree County rangeland was greening up, but still a long ways from total recovery. Cattle continued to improve in condition, but numbers remained low. Horn flies were a problem in several areas.

Rolling Plains: Cotton continued to improve. However insects such as thrips and fleahoppers were concerns, as well as weed pressure. Rangeland and pasture also was improving, and cattle were looking better with the better grazing. Some producers reported they had so much grass there wasn’t any runoff to refill stock water tanks. Though there was abundant grass, pastures couldn’t be stocked to take full advantage of the plentiful grazing without water for the cattle. Hay was in short supply, but now, after the rains, prospects looked promising for a good crop. The wheat harvest was nearly finished. Yields were below normal. Peaches looked good, with early varieties being harvested.

South: The northern part of the district had short soil moisture and humid temperatures with rain showers. The potato harvest continued. Pastures remained in poor shape, with producers steadily providing supplemental feed to cattle. The eastern part of the district also had short moisture levels. Some areas received light showers, but others remained dry, such as Brooks County, which reported dry, yellowed grass covering most of the county. Temperatures there reached 108 degrees. Jim Wells, Kleberg and Kenedy counties had showers, which helped most row crops. Where possible, producers continued to cut and bale hay. The western part of the district received heavy rains at midweek, improving native rangeland and pasture grasses, and thus allowed some producers to cease supplemental feeding of livestock. The rains temporarily interrupted the onion and watermelon harvests in Zavala County, but these activities resumed by the weekend. Cotton, corn, sorghum and sesame made good progress following the rains. Most pecans were at the early stages of nut development. Producers were carefully monitoring pecan casebearer activity. Maverick County didn’t receive rain, but previous rains were still maintaining rangeland conditions. However, watermelon, cantaloupe and onions were almost lost. Coastal Bermuda grass, sorghum for forage and grain, and corn remained in good condition. In Starr County, the watermelon harvest was underway.

South Plains: A few counties reported from 0.5 to 1 inch of rain. Other counties remained dry, with very warm temperatures and high winds, which was drying out topsoil. Farmers were planting sorghum or haygrazer where cotton was lost due to cooler temperatures and previous heavy rains. Warmer conditions in most counties accelerated growth of earlier planted cotton. In Cochran County, cotton development ranged from three true leaves to match-head sized squares. Square set was good in those cases. No insect-induced square losses were reported. In Lubbock County, cotton varied widely, from one-third grown square to seedling stage. Most peanuts were blooming. Peas, corn and sorghum were all in good condition, as were pasture and rangeland. Cattle were mostly in good to excellent condition and improving with no supplemental feeding required. Texas Quail Index program research indicated that 80 percent of quail nests had a successful first hatch. Wheat fields left to be harvested for grain were being combined, with low yields of five to 20 bushels per acre reported.

Southeast: Temperatures were high. Soil moisture was mostly adequate throughout the region, though some counties reported 80 percent surplus. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely too, from fair to poor, with good ratings being the most common. Parts of Brazoria County received as much as 2 inches of rain. Pasture grasses were growing, and livestock were in good condition. Row crops were doing well, and the sorghum harvest was expected to begin the first week of July, weather permitting. Rains in Madison, Walker and Montgomery counties also promoted forage grass growth, but hampered hay harvesting. Orange County received heavy rains, which resulted in some flooding. Forage growth was good but hay production was delayed by wet weather. Brazos County had scattered showers and reported continuing problems with grasshoppers.

Southwest: The region continued to have warm weather and light rains. Warmer temperatures and winds were depleting soil moisture. Horn fly populations were on the increase. Grain sorghum was hit hard by headworms and yellow sugarcane aphids in some counties. Corn was starting to mature. There were some reports of armyworm activity. Pastures and rangeland further improved. Several weed species caused producers to look at various herbicide options. Supplemental feeding of livestock slowed. Livestock remained in good condition.

West Central: Temperatures warmed up, but were still below normal for the season. Scattered showers early in the week have continued to improve soil moisture. The showers also helped summer pastures and row crops. Farmers continued preparing fields for planting. Cotton planting was mostly complete. Some producers were replanting crops due to damage from heavy rains. Others were busy spraying weeds. Corn continued to mature and remained in good condition. Hay producers were cutting and baling hay. The fruit and vegetable harvests were underway. The wheat harvest was complete. Rangeland and pastures rebounded after the rains and continued to improve with green-up of warm-season grasses and forages. Low livestock numbers resulted in low stocking rates, which helped to improve grass stands. Livestock were in good condition. Horn flies were becoming a problem in all areas. Pecan growers were spraying orchards.

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