Hay situation good in east, southeast, iffy in others
Writer: Robert Burns, 903-834-6191, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEGE STATION – While some parts of Texas have been lucky when it comes to hay production, others will likely have an expensive go at feeding cattle this winter, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
“We’ve been blessed with rainfall during our spring and even during the mid-summer in East Texas,” said Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson, AgriLife Extension forage specialist, Overton. “So hay production in the eastern part of the state has been higher than other areas.”
Though the rest of the state has received some rain, drought conditions persist, which has of course pretty much stymied hay production in much of the state, Corriher-Olson said.
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“Part of Central Texas, around Waco and along the I-35 corridor, did receive some rainfall, but not as much as we have had in East Texas, and probably did not provide much improvement in hay production,” she said.
West Central Texas also received some good rains in late May and early June, which helped hay production, but the area remains under moderate to severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Though hay production has been good in East Texas, it hasn’t been as good as it might have been because of the frequent rains, Corriher-Olson noted. Mid-summer is usually a drier time for East Texas, which is conducive to curing and harvesting hay. But frequent rains have made it a challenge in some areas to get the hay in.
She also said she hasn’t seen much hay moving out of East Texas or out of the state.
“Some are rebuilding their stocks, and many have pastures that are still recovering from the drought of 2011 and subsequent droughts,” Corriher-Olson said.
With pastures still in recovery, livestock producers will need hay to make up for lack of grazing.
She also noted that with the chances of a moderately strong El Niño this fall, the prospects for winter pasture are better than they have been in years. A strong El Niño usually means a wetter late fall and winter for all of the Southwest and Southeast U.S.
“This presents us with an excellent chance to reduce costs and preserve hay stocks, not just in East Texas but in Central Texas and other areas too,” she said.
Corriher-Olson will be conducting a training, “Winter Pastures for Central and East Texas,” Aug. 12, at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton. For more information on the training, go to http://today.agrilife.org/?p=41113 .
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, rangeland and pastures, livestock and overall crop conditions were rated good throughout the region. However, lack of rain could soon start to slow forage growth in some areas. Cotton was in good condition. Some dryland producers anticipated record yields. Corn harvesting was expected to start in two weeks, and producers were expecting record yields with this crop as well. Hay production was proceeding well. Earlier rains maintained creek and pond levels. Livestock were holding strong. Producers were still fighting sugarcane aphids in grain sorghum. Some had already treated twice with the emergency-use pesticide Transform.
Coastal Bend: Sorghum and corn growers were busy harvesting. Sorghum yields were averaging in 4,000 to 6,000 pounds per acre. Early planted cotton was opening bolls. Spraying for bollworms resumed in some areas. Grasshoppers continued to be a problem for pasture and forage crops, as well as lawn and gardens. Pasture grasses needed more moisture and a break from the blistering summer heat.
East: The region had below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation for mid-July. Some counties had 1 inch to more than 6 inches of rain. San Augustine County received 6.5 inches of rain during a four-day period. Wood County, which had remained dry for several weeks, finally received some rain. Growing conditions continued to be good. Subsoil and topsoil moisture were at least adequate, with most counties reporting surplus. Grass growth was excellent, resulting in a great hay season in terms of quality and quantity. Most producers will have sufficient hay supplies for winter. Fruits and vegetables were being harvested and sold in local farmers markets. Corn was in good to excellent condition, with 80 percent of the crop mature. Armyworms and grasshoppers continued to be a problem, and producers were spraying to control the pests. Cattle were in good to excellent condition. Producers started to wean and sell early calves. Mosquitos were swarming. Feral hog activity continued to be reported.
Far West: The region remained mostly hot and dry, with isolated scattered showers in several counties. Culberson County received 1.8 inches; Glasscock County, 0.1 to 0.2 inch; Presidio County, 0.5 inch; and Ward County, 0.25 inch. Pasture and rangeland were in poor to very poor condition. Subsoil moisture was short to very short. Topsoil moisture was adequate to very short. Upland cotton was in good to excellent condition. Corn and sorghum were in good to fair condition.
North: Topsoil moisture throughout the region was mostly adequate to short, with a few counties reporting surplus. Two to 4 inches of rain accompanied the cooler temperatures, which offset some of the drying out of soils from the previous week. Crops perked up after the rains, and corn, grain and soybeans looked good. Livestock were in good condition. Grasshopper populations were increasing throughout the region. Armyworms were spotted in hayfields in Bowie and Camp counties. Feral hogs were still causing damage in Camp County.
Panhandle: The region had below-average temperatures most of the week. Many areas received rain, with amounts varying from a trace to as much as 4 inches. Soil moisture was short to adequate. The harvesting of wheat was ongoing. The cooler temperatures slowed corn and cotton growth. Cotton was in all stages of growth and needed more heat units, but the weather was optimal for corn pollination. Collingsworth County reported a small percentage of cotton acres were flooded out in low-lying areas. Deaf Smith County lost many acres due to hail and heavy weather events. Rangeland and pastures continued to improve after the recent rains, though more moisture was needed. Cattle were in good condition, despite being pestered by horn flies. Dallam and Hartley cattle were being moved to emergency grazing on U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Reserve Program acres.
Rolling Plains: From 0.5 inch to as much as 8 inches of rain fell over a large part of the region. Most areas reported from 1 inch to 4 inches. Smaller stock-water tanks were filled, and there was some runoff into lakes. However, more rain was needed to fill lakes and larger ponds. Cooler weather accompanied the rains. Cotton was progressing, with producers still spraying to control weeds. Some producers also sprayed for fleahoppers. Pastures and rangeland were in good condition after the rains. Livestock were in good to excellent condition. Sorghum was being cut for hay, with some fields yielding as much as 7,000 pounds per acre. Hay yields were much better than the last three years. The Parker County peach crop yields were good.
South: As with the previous week, the weather was hot, with light to moderate showers and high winds. Most of the northern part of the district reported short to very short soil moisture. Atascosa County was the exception with adequate soil moisture thanks to recent showers. Peanuts were starting to peg and were under irrigation through most of the week. Producers were preparing to harvest corn. Watermelon harvesting was winding down. Rangeland and pastures were in fair to poor condition. Stock-water tank levels continued to decline, and cattle body condition scores were low to fair. In the eastern part of the district, some areas received light showers. About 70 percent of corn in Jim Wells County was mature. In Kleberg and Kenedy counties, grain harvesting was almost complete, and cotton was starting to show signs of stress due to the lack of moisture. Soil moisture was 60 to 80 percent adequate in Jim Wells County, and 50 percent short in Kleberg and Kenedy counties. The western part of the district had widespread showers. Some areas received as much as 2 to 3 inches. Corn and sorghum were maturing well with the help of hot and dry conditions prior to the rains. Pecans were progressing on schedule, cotton responded well to irrigation, and the harvesting of sorghum was expected to resume once fields dried out. Rangeland and pastures were in good condition, and supplemental feeding of livestock was not required because of excellent grazing conditions. In the southern part of the region, a few areas received a trace of moisture. Sorghum was expected to be completely harvested by the end of July. Cotton producers were defoliating in some areas, and expected to begin harvesting before August. Soil moisture remained short to very short.
South Plains: Parts of the region received rain, from 0.5 inch to 3 inches. Generally, the region had cooler, cloudy weather. Cotton was behind in development, by as much as three weeks in some areas. Many cotton fields were squaring with older cotton beginning to bloom. Insect pressure was light, but there were reports of herbicide-resistant weeds in isolated areas. Some producers were hiring “hoe hands” to clean up weedy fields. Rangeland and pastures were improving, and cattle were mostly in good to excellent condition. Early planted sorghum fields were headed and beginning to bloom. Corn was in the tasseling to dough stages. Scurry County remained dry and in need of rainfall, but cotton there was coming along.
Southeast: Soil moisture varied widely throughout the region, with most counties having adequate levels, but some reporting as much as 100 percent surplus. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely too, from excellent to good, with good ratings being the most common. Hay harvesting continued throughout much of the region. Spotty precipitation continued across Brazoria County, with more rain forecast. Most hay producers just finished taking either a second or third cutting. Livestock were in good condition, and the grain sorghum harvest began. In Chambers County, rice was maturing fast. Recent rains were not good for the rice crop as it increased disease pressure. Also, the rains did not come at an opportune time for rice flowering and pollination. Heavy rains in Orange County caused flooding and left standing water in hay fields. Cooler temperatures slowed forage growth. In Brazos County, scattered showers greatly benefited pastures and row crops.
Southwest: The western half of the district continued to have mostly hot and dry weather that took a toll on pastures. In about half the region, topsoil moisture was short to very short; subsoil moisture short to very short. The eastern half of the district got rain, but it came as scattered showers, and pastures and crops were beginning to suffer. Most corn was past the dent stage and needed the dry weather. Grain sorghum was beginning to turn color. Cotton was in the late squaring stage to setting bolls. Hay harvesting was proceeding, with heavy yields across most of the eastern district. Topsoil and subsoil moisture for the eastern half of the district was mostly adequate.
West Central: Temperatures early in the week were hot and dry with warm nights. Rangeland, pastures and crops were showing signs of heat stress, though recent showers promised some relief. Cooler weather came later in the week, with many areas reporting widespread scattered showers. Field activities continued through the week, including cutting and baling hay, and spraying for weeds in row crops. Cotton and grain sorghum were in great condition. Grasses and forbs continued to have good growth. Stock tanks and lakes were catching much-needed runoff from recent rains. Livestock remained in good condition.