Texas crop, weather for July 7, 2015

One benefit of all the rains were fewer grasshoppers overall

A grasshopper seems to be waiting patiently for a train to pass near Kerens in Central Texas. Grasshopper populations are generally much lower in most of the state this year, most likely because of the excessive late winter and spring rains, said Dr. Allen Knutson, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist, Dallas. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Robert Burns)

A grasshopper seems to be waiting patiently for a train to pass near Kerens in Central Texas. Grasshopper populations are generally much lower in most of the state this year, most likely because of the excessive late winter and spring rains, said Dr. Allen Knutson, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist, Dallas. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Robert Burns)

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

COLLEGE STATION – Though there have been reports of high grasshopper populations in some areas, generally the pest’s numbers statewide are much lower this year.

“Our expectations this year were that grasshopper numbers would be lower because during heavy rains and higher humidity, grasshoppers are more likely to die from fungal diseases, “said Dr. Allen Knutson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist, Dallas. “We’re getting a few reports of grasshoppers, but overall the numbers are much less than in previous years.”

In the Central Texas Blacklands, only Ralph Davis, AgriLife Extension agent for Kaufman County, mentioned seeing large numbers of grasshoppers.

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However, in the Panhandle, Mike Bragg, AgriLife Extension agent for Dallam County, said that as rangelands dried out, grasshoppers were moving into cropland, requiring some producers to spray pesticides.

In East Texas, Armon Hewitt, AgriLife Extension agent for Trinity County,
noted increasing grasshopper numbers, but his was the only county where troublesome numbers were reported. In the West Central District, Heath Lusty, AgriLife Extension agent for Lampasas County, noted that “lots of small grasshoppers were beginning to show up.”

Generally, however, the incidents of grasshoppers were low as was expected, Knutson said. This doesn’t mean producers shouldn’t be on the watch for the pest. It’s still possible for populations to explode in isolated areas.

Knutson also said that though incidences of the sugarcane aphid have been lower than expected this year, the pest is now showing up in Blacklands fields.

“We’re seeing some of the first sorghum fields in the northern Blacklands being treated for sugarcane aphids,” he said. “Also, forage sorghums should be monitored closely too for this pest, because it can be very damaging to crops like Sudan grass and haygrazer.”

Though the sugarcane aphid numbers haven’t increased until recently, now that hotter, drier summer days are here, populations can get out of control very rapidly, Knutson said.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Districts

The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Districts

Central: Rangeland, pastures, livestock and most crops were all rated as being in good condition. Drier conditions during the past week were favorable for crops. Grain sorghum in particular looked very good. Corn maturity was highly variable. The wheat harvest was completed with some low test weights and some sprout dockages. Stock-water tanks were full, and lake levels were up. Sugarcane aphids were found in many forage sorghum fields. As most producers will start harvesting sorghum silage very soon, some fields will have to be sprayed. Bermuda grass stem maggots were also found. Hay harvesting was proceeding well, with yields ranging from four to six round bales to the acre. Though oats in some fields were laid down by earlier high winds and heavy rains, the harvest was considered good. Irrigation of crops will start soon.

Coastal Bend: Some areas had a few short showers, but hotter, drier weather generally prevailed, which made good growing conditions for most field crops and forages. The hot, dry weather also allowed fieldwork and hay harvesting. Corn was maturing and drying quickly. Hay harvest continued with very good yields. Most grain sorghum neared being ready to harvest, although combining will be difficult in fields where the wind from Tropical Storm Bill caused lodging. Cattle were in excellent condition, and pasture grasses were knee high. Cotton and soybeans were progressing well, though some fields needed more moisture to reach full yield potential.

East: Weather around the region became more normal for this time of year. Producers were baling hay as fast as they could. Some pastures were still not traversable with heavy equipment due to water in low-lying areas. In Anderson County, some areas along the Trinity River were still under as much as 5 feet of water. Most counties had adequate subsoil and topsoil moisture. Brief afternoon showers caused problems for hay production. Most hay fields were producing more hay per acre than normal – as much as three bales per acre — but the quality was down due to the delayed harvest and producers not being able to make applications of herbicides and fertilizer in a timely fashion due to the rain. Livestock were in good condition. Horn fly populations were still stressing livestock. Cattle were loaded with flies. Vegetable growers were harvesting peas, corn and tomatoes to sell at local farmers markets. Mayhaw, blackberry and blueberry growers had another great season. Peach yields were light due to pressure from continued rain and the resulting plant diseases. Most counties had a good watermelon crop, except Panola County, where heavy rains fell at the wrong time, knocking many of the blossoms from the vines. Pecan scab was present in orchards and landscapes. Mosquitoes and houseflies were still a major threat and nuisance. Feral hogs and grasshoppers were active.

Far West: All counties reported rainfall from 0.7 inch to 2 inches, which kept pastures and crops green. Temperatures continued to be mild for this time of year. Livestock continued to do well. Replanted cotton looked good but was behind normal growth.

North: Topsoil moisture was mostly adequate. Weather was generally mild, with some areas receiving from 0.3 to 1 inch of rain. Corn looked a little better than it had earlier, though uniformity of stands was still an issue due to some fields having standing water throughout emergence. Summer pastures were doing well with grass growing at a great rate. Soybeans and grain sorghum looked good. Late-planted cotton emerged. Producers were harvesting hay where fields had dried out. Livestock were in excellent condition, and calves were doing well. Wild hogs continued to damage pastures and crops. Grasshopper populations were expanding in some areas.

Panhandle: The region was hot and dry for most of the week, with rain on the weekend. Some areas of Dallam and Hartley counties received from 0.1 to 0.45 inch, with 0.2 inch common. Hansford County got 0.75 to 1 inch. The progress of the wheat harvest varied, from being well along to just starting. In Deaf Smith County, wheat yields were about average. In Randall County, about 60 percent of wheat was harvested, with yields ranging from 30 to 60 bushels per acre. The Hansford County wheat harvest was nearly completed, with irrigated fields making from 45 to 60 bushels per acre. Some wheat fields had been taken over by weeds and were being plowed under instead of farmers spending money to spray the field. Irrigation of corn was active, and some producers were cultivating and side dressing the crop with anhydrous ammonia. Corn was behind in maturity in some areas. In Hansford County, early planted corn tasseled, but the late-planted corn was far behind in development. Grain sorghum varied in maturity as well. Deaf Smith County grain sorghum was doing well, with earlier plantings at the six-to-eight leaf stage. Late plantings ranged from just emerging to the three-leaf stage. Ochiltree County sorghum planting was just completed. Most Randall County sorghum was rated as being in excellent condition. High temperatures increased livestock’s water needs, and with no wind to turn windmills, some producers started hauling water.
Cattle were in good condition across the region, though some pastures were beginning to turn brown. Grasshoppers were moving out of drier rangeland into cropland causing some producers to make broader insecticide applications.

Rolling Plains: Conditions returned to normal in the region, with little to no rainfall over the past few weeks. The dry conditions allowed producers to finish planting cotton. Planted cotton was in good to excellent condition, with only a few acres being in poor shape due to excessive rainfall during planting. Soil moisture remained favorable, though later-planted cotton had a harder time getting started due to the lack of rainfall during the past several weeks. There was only low to moderate pressure from fleahoppers and thrips. Pastures and livestock were in good to excellent condition. Earlier rains gave rangeland the boost needed to meet grazing demand. Some ranchers were beginning to restock herds but were mindful that if rains stop, they don’t want to be overstocked. High cattle prices were also making producers cautious on restocking. Hay yields were excellent, and the peach crop outstanding.

South: Scattered showers continued throughout the South Region. Some areas received light showers and some received pretty heavy downpours — resulting in good rainfall amounts to add moisture to already adequate soil moisture conditions. In the northern part of the region, peanuts were developing nicely and flowering, and some producers were spraying the crop with fungicides. Corn and grain sorghum were maturing, and cotton was setting bolls. Rangeland and pastures remained in good condition, and cattle body-condition scores were excellent. Soil moisture was mostly adequate in the northern counties. In the eastern part of the region, rains kept temperatures under 100 degrees. Jim Wells County received from 0.5 inch to 2 inches, which kept fieldwork minimal. Kleberg and Kenedy counties did not receive any rain, but cotton and small grain crops were said to be the best in the past decade. Ranges and pastures were excellent. Soil moisture was mostly adequate, with Kleberg and Kenedy counties having 80 to 100 percent surplus conditions. In the western part of the region, some areas received nearly 2 inches of rain. Coastal Bermuda grass producers had plenty of round and square bales laid out in fields throughout the area. Hay was for sale at dramatically reduced prices. The scattered showers delayed some field activities, but corn, sorghum and cotton were progressing well, and watermelon harvesting preparations continued. There was some insect pressure on cotton, but it was below the economic threshold for any pesticide applications. Pecans continued to make good progress. Soil moisture remained adequate in most of the western counties. In the southern part of the region, showers in Cameron County halted the harvesting of corn and grain sorghum. In Hidalgo County, rain held up the harvesting of sunflowers, sorghum and sugarcane. Harvesting of row crops and hay continued in Starr County despite light showers. Willacy County received about 1 inch to 3 inches of rain, which stopped the grain sorghum harvest for about two days. Corn throughout the area looked good. Soil moisture was mostly adequate in the southern counties, with Willacy County having 50 percent surplus topsoil moisture.

South Plains: Crops in most of the region were off to a good start due to all the early season rains but needed more moisture soon to keep progressing. The Bailey County wheat harvest was ongoing with excellent yields. Cochran County cotton progress ranged from five to 12 true leaves. Even with the dry conditions, Cochran County corn and grain sorghum were making excellent progress. Peanuts were also doing very well. Lubbock County growers began irrigating grain crops as soils dried out. Many Lubbock County cotton fields were squaring, and grain sorghum ranged from just planted to the early boot stage. Early planted cornfields were tasseling, and sugarcane aphids were detected. In Garza County, cotton was progressing well in most areas despite high weed pressure. No insect pressure was reported. Rangeland and pastures were in excellent condition. Mitchell County cotton was growing fast and showed signs of squaring in early planted acres. Weeds were a problem in cotton fields there too. Shortly after a sand fighter cultivator was run over a field, new weeds emerged. Scurry County cotton was a little behind but was expected to catch up soon.

Southeast: Soil moisture varied widely but was mostly adequate to surplus, with Hardin, San Jacinto and Chambers counties having 100 percent surplus levels. Rangeland and pastures in those counties were mostly good to excellent, with good ratings the most common. Walker County producers were harvesting hay. In Montgomery County, warm temperatures and rain promoted grass growth, but wet conditions made it difficult to put up much hay. Chambers County producers were able to make some herbicide applications to hayfields, but very little was cut due to weather conditions. Fort Bend County producers were also able to cut and harvest hay despite scattered showers bringing from 0.5 inch to 1.7 inches of rain. The county, like much of the region, needed a few weeks of dry weather to enable sorghum growers to begin harvesting. Brazos County also had scattered showers across the entire county. Warm-season grasses were growing rapidly, and grasshopper populations were increasing in some areas. Waller County corn was in poor condition due to too much water. Pastures continued to improve, and rangeland was in good condition. For the first time in weeks, Brazoria County did not have heavy showers during the reporting period. In Chambers County, rice acreage was about half what it was in 2014. Some organic rice was planted right up until the last week of June.

Southwest: Drier weather improved conditions throughout the counties, and soil moisture became more manageable. With good growing conditions and earlier rains, Gillespie County peach growers were expecting a record-setting year. Some areas had problems with grasshopper infestations. Livestock and wildlife were in excellent condition with good forages and grazing on rangeland.

West Central: Days were hot and windy with warm nights. There were a few scattered showers, but the wildfire potential increased as tall grass in fields dried out. The wheat harvest was completed in most areas, with fair yields reported. Row crops continued to make good progress with plenty of moisture and good growing conditions. Summer forage crops were being harvested for hay with very good yields. Grain sorghum fields looked good. Cotton planting was mostly finished in all areas, and most of the planted crop had emerged. Producers were spraying cotton fields for weed control and scouting sorghum fields for sugarcane aphids. Some had to spray to control the pest. Hay producers continued cutting and baling, with good yields and high quality. Some hay fields neared being ready for a second cutting. Rangeland and pastures further improved due to recent rains. Livestock remained in good condition. Flies continued to be an issue, and small grasshoppers made their appearance. Pecan trees were doing well.


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