Texas crop, weather for Jan. 19, 2011

Picture of cattle on a snow-covered East Texas pasture

During the first weeks of January, rain and/or snow came to many parts of Texas, improving soil-moisture levels but making conditions hard for beef cows. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Robert Burns)

COLLEGE STATION — Since New Year’s, some Texas counties had received from 2 to 6 inches of moisture, but much of the state remains behind as far as long-term accumulations go, said Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

From the Panhandle to South Texas, the lack of moisture affected winter wheat and other crops and caused concern about the future success of spring plantings, according to county reports from AgriLife Extension agents.

2-minute Texas crop weather report for Jan. 19, 2011
[audio:https://today.agrilife.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/0119crop-weather-AUDIO.mp3|titles=2-minute Texas crop weather report for Jan. 19, 2011]
“Producers have had a productive week in the field this week with above average temperatures but no moisture in the area,” reported Rick Auckerman, AgriLife Extension agent for Deaf Smith County, west of Amarillo. “Winter wheat continues to deteriorate with the lack of moisture and extreme drying conditions in our area.”

“Soil moisture is very short with no measurable rainfall since late October,” said Jay Kingston, AgriLife Extension agent for Kent County, east of Lubbock. “Wheat is in poor to very poor condition along with native pastures.”

Pecos County has gone 120 days without any measurable precipitation,” said Norman Fryar, AgriLife Extension agent for Pecos County, south of Odessa. “Continued winds and diverse temperature ranges are impacting the overall agricultural industry of the county.”

“Conditions remain dry in Foard County. Producers are debating on whether to top-dress wheat,” said Seth Manney, AgriLife Extension agent for Foard County, west of Wichita Falls. “Many would like to contract wheat, but are reluctant with this weather pattern.”

“It has been very cold this week, we still have not received any rain,” reported Greg Gruben, AgriLife Extension agent for Scurry County, west of Abilene. “Rangeland and wheat were really struggling due to the lack of rainfall. We certainly do not have any underground moisture to start next season’s crop.”

“We had from 0.5-1.5 inches of snow Sunday and Monday with some scattered rainfall late Monday,” said Rick Hirsch, AgriLife Extension agent for Henderson County, west of Tyler. “Hay supplies are rapidly depleting with increasing cold weather. Soil-moisture conditions were helped by snow and rain but it was not enough to sustain production.”

“We went from a 100-percent topsoil moisture shortage to a 100-percent adequate topsoil moisture,” said Larry Perez, AgriLife Extension agent for Jim Hogg County, east of Laredo. “A 1- to 2- inch rainfall event will do that in this area. Very cool temps with significant moisture and lots of clouds means no evaporation and moisture retention; lots of smiling faces in the county.”

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

Map of Texas AgriLife Extension Service regional districts

Texas AgriLife Extension Service regional districts

Central: Most of the region received rain in the past week. Livestock producers were providing cattle with hay and feed. Wheat producers were applying fertilizer on those wheat fields that developed good stands. Corn producers were also applying fertilizer to fields they plan to plant in the spring. The cold, wet weather was hard on beef cows.

Coastal Bend: Soil-moisture levels were greatly helped by rain. Winter pastures responded well to the rain. Wind damage and hail from a Jan. 9 storm was reported to be widespread. Wet soils prevented growers from planting spring wheat. This late, most spring wheat that was originally planned will probably not be planted as growers opt for other warm-season crops in its place. Farmers had not applied fertilizer due to very dry soil before the rain but were expected to resume as soon as fields dried out. Producers continued to provide supplemental feed to livestock as winter forages were in short supply.

East: The region had very cold days and nights, but received moisture in the form of snow, sleet and rain. Where rainfall was significant — as much as 3.5 inches — soil conditions were improved. However, many areas were still well below normal accumulations for the year. With average yearly precipitation more than 20 inches below long-term averages, San Augustine County reported that 2010 was the driest in 41 years. In nearly all the region, much more precipitation was needed to replenish stock ponds and improve winter pasture growth. Livestock were in fair to good condition with producers providing supplemental feeding. Many producers were searching for hay to buy.

Far West: The region has had no measurable amount of precipitation in more than 120 days. The lack of moisture in conjunction with high winds has put the region at very high risk for wildfires. Pecan growers were pruning dormant trees. Fall-planted onions and alfalfa were dormant as well. Farmers were preparing fields for spring planting of cotton, chiles and corn.

North: Soil moisture ranged from short to adequate. From 2 to 9 inches of snow fell with temperatures dropping into the teens and low 20s. The cold temperatures meant the snow did not melt for a few days. Though the snowy, cold weather brought needed moisture, it forced livestock feeders to use a lot of hay supplies. Winter pasture growth slowed with the low temperatures, but the snow was expected to have insulated young wheat from freezing. With the inclement weather, there is not much field activity other than feeding livestock. The pecan harvest was complete, and winter wheat was in fair to good condition. Rangeland and pasture conditions ranged from poor to good.

Panhandle: The region remained very dry. Soil moisture was short to very short, which adversely affected all winter wheat but particularly that grown without irrigation. Field activities across most of the area were at a standstill due to weather. In a few counties, producers were preparing fields for spring plantings. A large increase in acreage destined for cotton planting was anticipated. Supplemental feeding of cattle was the norm for most livestock producers. Some had to routinely break ice in tanks and ponds due to the severe cold.

Rolling Plains: Cold and dry conditions continued, and wildfire danger was high. Some wheat fields under center-pivot irrigation made good progress. Other fields were in severe need of moisture. The farmers nearly had the cotton harvest finished with only a few modules of cotton needing to get picked up. All things considered, 2010 was a very good year for cotton farmers. Many were shredding and plowing the last remaining of their fields. Eventually, they plan to prepare beds for spring planting, but currently, soils were rock hard due to the lack of moisture. Livestock were in fair condition with supplemental feeding. Feral hog movement and destruction increased.

South: Several counties received a long-awaited rainfall. However, soil-moisture conditions were mostly short to very short throughout most of the region. The exceptions to the short soil moisture regions were those eastern and southern counties that received large rains. Rangeland and pastures improved somewhat, but cold temperatures slowed winter-annual forage production to a standstill. Supplemental feeding was in full swing due to diminishing forage quality and quantity. Beef cattle scores were fair to good. In the northern part of the region, growers were actively planting potatoes. Producers in the eastern part of the region were applying fertilizer and pre-emergence herbicides. In the western part of the region — mostly the Zavala County area – growers were busy harvesting fresh-market spinach and cabbage. In the southern part of the region, the harvesting of citrus, winter vegetables and sugarcane was ongoing.

Southeast: Some areas receive about 1 inch of rain, which was absorbed quickly by dry soils. Wheat was good. Land preparation has slowed some due to the wet conditions.

South Plains: The region was bitterly cold with a low of 8 degrees and a high of 27 degrees, and wind gusts up to 23 mph. Soil moisture was very short to short. The cotton-ginning season continued to wind down with only a few gins still running. Winter wheat was in poor to fair condition and in need of moisture. Pastures and rangeland were in poor to fair condition with rainfall needed for cool-season grasses. Livestock remained in mostly good condition, with producers providing supplemental feed on colder days.

Southwest: The region received 0.2-0.3 inches of moisture in the form of a slow, drizzling rain, but cumulative rainfall totals since Aug. 1 remained at about 50 percent of the long-term average. Cold weather helped conserve the limited moisture. Fields were ready for early spring planting. More rain will be needed soon for dryland crops to be planted. Pastures and rangeland forbs were in winter dormancy. Forage availability was below average. Winter vegetables made excellent progress under heavy irrigation. The harvesting of cabbage and spinach continued.

West Central: Extremely cold weather and dry conditions continued. All counties needed rain to keep winter pastures and crops going. The cotton harvest was completed in most areas. Winter wheat was in poor condition due to lack of moisture. Farmers were preparing fields for spring plantings. Rangeland and pasture conditions continued to decline. Forage availability was very low. Livestock were in fair condition with continued supplemental feeding. The pecan harvest was completed in many areas with average yields reported.

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