Texas crop, weather for Sept. 3, 2014

Rye seed shortage may call for revised winter pasture strategy

East Texas producers prefer small grain rye for winter pasture because it is more tolerant to acid soils and offers earlier forage production than other options, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson)

East Texas producers prefer small grain rye for winter pasture because it is more tolerant to acid soils and offers earlier forage production than other options, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson)

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

COLLEGE STATION – A shortage of small grain rye seed may require many East and Central Texas producers to rethink their winter pasture plan, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist.

“The shortage is primarily of varieties we are more familiar with here in East Texas, such as Elbon and Maton,” said Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson, AgriLife Extension forage specialist at Overton.

Much of the seed production for those varieties comes out of Oklahoma, Corriher-Olson said. Because of the drought, as well as late freezes this year, a lot of seed production was lost.

“Producers need to be aware of this when they go to their retailer,” she said. “Those varieties may not be available, may be in shorter supply or may be more expensive.”

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There may also be unfamiliar varieties of rye grain seed available, but Corriher-Olson warned producers should be careful of their choices as the seed may have been grown in more northern states and not be very productive under East and Central Texas conditions — or may not be adapted at all.

A good place to begin is the website for the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton, she said. Go to at http://overton.tamu.edu and click on “Pastures, Forages & Soils” and then select “Ryegrass & Small Grains.”

Producers wanting advice on a particular variety may also contact her at 903-834-6191 or VACorriher@ag.tamu.edu, Corriher-Olson said.

There are also options to small grain rye for winter pasture, she noted. Those options include annual ryegrass, oats and wheat.

“Ryegrass is a very viable option, though it will be more dependent upon soil acidity, requiring at least a pH of 6,” she said. “It will also have later production, and be more of an early spring forage than a winter pasture option.”

Oats and wheat also are more sensitive to soil pH. Oats may not be cold tolerant enough for northeast Texas conditions. For advice on these options, Corriher-Olson recommended producers first contact the AgriLife Extension agent in their county. A contact list may be found at http://counties.agrilife.org/.

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: Most counties reported good soil moisture, as well as rangeland and pasture conditions. Nearly all reported crops and livestock in good condition. Hot and dry conditions continued. Most dryland cotton was a loss, but irrigated cotton looked good. Fieldwork and harvesting of crops continued, with high yields across the region. Grain elevators were full or filling up, which delayed the completion of the corn harvest. The first cotton was harvested and ginned earlier this week. Creeks were flowing and stock tank water levels were adequate, which helped keep livestock in good condition. Pastures continued to look good, despite a little drought stress in some areas, and some producers were taking a third hay cutting. Sugarcane aphids continued to be an issue in Sudan grass hayfields.

Coastal Bend: Despite a few scattered showers, soil moisture remained short. The dry conditions allowed producers to harvest crops and cut more hay. The cotton harvest was completed in the more southern counties, but just beginning in the northern part of the region. As they finished harvesting, growers were shredding stalks and plowing fields to destroy any volunteer or regrowth cotton. Cotton yields varied widely, from fair to near-record levels. As rice farmers were finishing their harvest, they were baling rice hay. The red grape harvest was completed with fantastic yields reported. Beef producers were increasing supplement hay feeding to cattle.

East: Conditions were hot and dry. Soil moisture and forage quality decreased. Pastures were beginning to dry out. Most counties reported subsoil and topsoil moisture as short, with a few counties reporting topsoil moisture as very short. Producers continued to bale hay. Grasshopper and armyworm infestations continued to be a problem for many producers. Protein levels in forages dropped due to earlier abundant rains, which required many producers to supplement cattle with protein. San Augustine County reported pastures were being grazed down due to lack of growth. Stock ponds remained in good shape. The grain sorghum harvest was completed, with yields of 5,500 pounds per acre reported. The corn harvest was also completed, with yields of about 160 bushels per acre. Early planted cotton looked great, while late-planted cotton was struggling. Insect pressure on cotton was low. Livestock remained in good condition. Vegetable production slowed. The Harrison County Farmers Market had its last official sale day until next spring. Feral hogs were active.

Far West: Hot, dry conditions continued for most of the region. Ector County was the exception, receiving from 2 to 3 inches of rain. Pasture and rangeland continued to be in very poor to poor condition. Subsoil and topsoil moisture was short to very short. Corn and cotton were in fair to good condition. Grain sorghum was mostly mature. All sunflowers were harvested.

North: Topsoil moisture was mostly short to adequate. Light rains across the region brought less than 0.5 inch of moisture. Temperatures rose to the mid- to high-90s, which dried up reserve soil moisture. The generally dry weather allowed the corn and sorghum harvests to continue. Summer pasture grazing was becoming very short. Without substantial rain soon, producers may have to start feeding hay. In Kaufman County, the hay harvest continued. Overall, cattle were in good condition. Grasshoppers continued to be a problem. Sugarcane aphids were still attacking sorghum Sudan hay. Feral hog activity remained high.

Panhandle: The region was generally hot, dry and windy. Some areas in the region received from a trace to 3 inches of rain. Soil moisture continued to be mostly short to adequate throughout the region. Rain was still needed throughout the region, particularly for dryland cotton. Growers with irrigated cotton were watering as much as possible. Cotton was really starting to mature and pick up needed heat units. Peanuts were in fair condition. Deaf Smith County producers were still busy chasing water, trying to finish up the year and preparing to plant small grains. Grasshoppers were still a big problem in some areas. Dallam and Hartley counties reported some corn for silage was being harvested. Wheat planting continued, with some fields already emerged. Livestock were in good condition.

Rolling Plains: Some areas reported about 3 inches of rain, though the average amount was considerably less. Producers hoped the moisture would maintain cotton boll production. Dryland cotton that did not receive moisture was beginning to lose blooms. Irrigated cotton looked better. Temperatures reached 100 degrees on several days. Rangeland and pastures were in fair to good condition. Cattle remained in good condition. Water-use restrictions went into effect for some counties. Stock water tanks and lake levels were low.

South: Very hot and dry conditions continued. A few counties in the eastern and southern parts of the region reported light showers, which helped relieve dry range and pasture conditions. In the northern part of the region, extremely hot temperatures continued drying out rangeland and pastures. Cotton harvesting continued. Irrigation on peanuts was ongoing. Sorghum harvesting continued. Cotton defoliation began. Soil moisture was short to very short. Forage supplies were limited, forcing livestock producers to purchase hay for supplemental feed. Stock tank water levels were declining at an alarming rate. Livestock producers put a halt on livestock grazing in some areas due to the lack of water for cattle. Soil moisture conditions were short to very short. In the eastern part of the region, Brooks County received light showers, cooling things off and benefiting field crops. Rangeland and pastures continued to decline due to little to no rain. The risk of wildfires increased in Jim Wells County. In Kleberg and Kenedy counties, cotton and grain sorghum harvesting was completed with good yields. In the western part of the region, dry weather continued. Crop producers were preparing for fall season planting and actively producing coastal Bermuda grass for market. Temperatures were well above 100 degrees, which continued taking a toll on rangeland and pastures. Poor forage quality and declining cattle body conditions required livestock producers to increase supplemental feed throughout. Cotton harvesting was very active. Extremely dry and hot conditions helped speed the defoliation process. Some producers were ready to begin planting cool-season crops such as oats and wheat. Pecans progressed well with only light insect pressure, but required heavy irrigation water applications. In the southern parts of the region, producers began land preparations for fall planting and crop harvesting. In Starr County, rangeland and pastures were stressed by continually hot weather. The Willacy County cotton harvest was completed. Some areas received from 0.25 inch to 3 inches of rain.

South Plains: The region had spotty, scattered rains from a trace to about 2 inches. Humidity was higher than normal. Crosby County reported damaging winds accompanying the storms. Lubbock County had some isolated late-season hail damage to crops. Dryland cotton benefitted from rains, although many acres remained severely drought stressed. In general, insect pressure decreased. In peanuts, the risk of foliar disease risk was high. The corn harvest began in Lubbock and Hockley counties. Sunflowers continued to mature. Lynn County reported cotton was opening bolls early due to drought stress. In addition, small bolls were beginning to shed. Wheat fields desperately needed rain for planting to be successful. Rangeland and pastures benefited from the moisture and were mostly in fair to good condition. Moisture was needed for cool-season grasses to get started for the winter. Livestock were mostly in good condition.

Southeast: Soil moisture was mostly in the adequate to short range. Rangeland and pasture ratings were mostly fair to good, with fair ratings being the most common. Some areas received scattered showers. The Brazoria County corn harvest was completed. The cotton harvest was in progress, with good yield reported. Spotty showers and forecasted rain may slow harvest and delay some defoliation. In Chambers County, the rice harvest was in full swing, with trucks backed up at local dryers. In Montgomery County, temperatures were moderate, which promoted good forage growth. Dry conditions continued for most of Walker County. Most of the hay harvested there will be used for winter feeding. In Brazos County, corn yields have been high, and area corn storage was at capacity. The temperatures were in the 100s every day.

Southwest: There were spotty showers across the region, though generally hot, dry weather continued. Cooler temperatures and the possibility of rain was forecast. Grasses went into dormancy due to the heat. Corn and grain sorghum were being harvested, and cotton was opening bolls. Overall, livestock and wildlife were in good condition for early September. More rainfall was needed.

West Central: Hot, dry, windy conditions continued, with a few areas receiving isolated showers. Producers continued preparing fields for fall plantings. Most fields will need moisture before planting begins. Producers were also applying fertilizer to small grains. Except for late-planted fields, most grain sorghum was harvested. The corn harvest was near completion, with fair yields reported. Cotton was showing heat and drought stress in some areas. Irrigated cotton remained in fair to good condition. Rangeland and pastures began to decline due to hot, dry weather, but some areas remained in fair condition due to low cattle numbers grazing and a wet summer. Livestock were in fair to good condition. In some areas, producers began supplying supplemental feed to livestock due to the hot, dry conditions. Stock-tank levels began to drop; heavy runoff was needed. Pecan growers were actively irrigating orchards. To date, no pecan weevils were reported.


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