Rice situation varies widely; much never got planted
Writer: Robert Burns, 903-834-6191, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEGE STATION – After years of having not enough water to grow rice, many of the major production areas of the state got too much, according to reports by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel in the major rice growing counties.
The frequent rains prevented plantings and/or damaged crops and encouraged diseases in planted fields, according to the reports.
But it wasn’t all bad news. In Matagorda County, the rice crop was in pretty good shape, said Brent Bachelor, AgriLife Extension agent for Matagorda County.
“We were later than normal planting, probably by 15 to 20 days at least, but we did get it all in,” Bachelor said.
Another rain came after the planting, and other than some disease issues from the high humidity, much of the already established crop is progressing well, he said.
However, he noted the 3,000 acres of rice planted this year was severely reduced from the average of about 25,000 acres typically planted before the drought and the resulting water restrictions the Lower Colorado River Authority.
“From the big picture standpoint, we haven’t farmed much rice since 2011 and the water usage restrictions from the lower Colorado River and the Highland Lakes,” he said. “But we haven’t had to pump this year, and that’s a bright star in the picture.”
Other counties weren’t so fortunate, Bachelor said.
“I know that in Wharton County, they had some issues with the rain and the floods, particularly with this last round, because they had some fields that were heading,” he said. “If it’s heading and not blooming, it can go underwater for a short period of time. But it’s certainly important for it not to be completely submerged if it’s blooming, because once flowers are open, and they get wet, then we see blanks in spikes where rice kernels should be developing.”
Stephen Janak, AgriLife Extension agent for Colorado County, said about 60 to 70 percent of the county’s rice crop was in pretty good shape. These fields were already established before Tropical Storm Bill.
“When Bill came through, the levees blew out in a lot of the fields of where younger rice hadn’t been established yet and was still flooded,” he said.
The rain also created problems where the levees held, including completely submerging some rice, he said.
“The fields were saturated before Bill, which added 10 to 15 inches of rain on top of that,” Janak said. “There’s some organic rice that never got planted. It’s just a hodgepodge of conditions, depending on the situation, the soil type and when it was planted.”
In Jefferson County, a large percentage of the crop was not planted, and much of what was planted varied widely in development, said Emilee Bean, AgriLife Extension agent for Jefferson County.
As in other areas, the condition Jefferson County rice that got planted varied widely in development. In her weekly report, Bean rated 45 percent of the crop as good, 45 percent fair and 10 percent excellent.
According to the Chambers County weekly report, about 45 percent of the crop was planted and emerged, with most of the crop in good condition and 25 percent in fair condition.
Brazoria County rated 85 percent of the rice crop as being in good condition, and the rest fair to excellent.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following crop and weather summaries:
Central: Soil moisture, rangeland and pastures, and livestock were generally in good condition. Overall, crop conditions were rated as fair. The region generally had scattered showers, but heavy downpours caused severe flooding in isolated areas. The condition of the corn crop varied widely, with some fields drowned out while other fields looked good. Sugarcane aphid pressure on grain sorghum remained low. Lakes and stock-water tanks were full, and rivers were running strong. Many producers were still trying to get the first cutting of hay moved out of fields. Some producers reported getting four to six rolls of Bermuda grass hay per acre. Livestock were in good condition. The wheat and oat harvests wrapped up, with yields lower than expected. Grain sorghum was still struggling, but some fields bounced back from excessive moisture and were growing.
Coastal Bend: Winds brought by Tropical Storm Bill caused only minor damage and brought moderate flooding to row crops and pecans. Corn was maturing. Sorghum was flowering. Cotton development varied greatly, from full bloom to the six-leaf growth stage. There was some insect pressure in grain sorghum. The mixed maturity of sorghum caused management of the crop to be challenging. Hay harvesting was shut down by the rain. Rangeland was in excellent condition.
East: Most counties in the region received substantial rainfall from Tropical Storm Bill. Jasper County received the most at 10 inches. Henderson County got 3 to 5 inches, and Shelby County reported 5 to 8 inches. Several counties changed their subsoil and topsoil moisture ratings from adequate to surplus. The Jasper County towns of Kirbyville, Buna and Evadale were flooded. The Trinity River bottom remained flooded. The continued wet conditions were causing disease and insect infestations on some crops. Pecan scab infestation was heavy, and there were some reports of powdery mildew. Many trees were stressed because of saturated soils; some were losing leaves. In Anderson County, corn and grain sorghum fields were lost. Blueberry and blackberry harvests were behind due to the rains. Vegetable harvesting was slowed, and crop quality was diminished by the muddy conditions. Forage pastures and hayfields were in mostly good to excellent condition, but producers were unable to make hay due to the rains. Rain and wet conditions prevented some producers from marketing cattle. Otherwise, cattle were in good condition, and the market continued to be strong. The horn fly population exploded.
Far West: Thunderstorms in Brewster, Jeff Davis and Presidio counties brought as much as 1.5 inches of rain. The thunderstorms also produced high winds and lightning, which increased wildfire danger. Winkler and Loving counties had scattered showers. Upton County rangeland conditions improved, but broomweed took over ground that had been left bare from the previous drought. Cattle were in good condition. Cotton, corn, sunflowers and alfalfa were all doing well. Wheat producers were finishing up harvesting. Pasture and rangeland were in fair to good condition. Topsoil and subsoil moisture was adequate.
North: Topsoil moisture was mostly adequate. Tropical Storm Bill brought 3 inches of rain during the middle of the week, which halted planting of soybeans, cotton and grain sorghum. Bill also stopped the hay and wheat harvests, and other fieldwork. Fields and pastures were saturated. Corn was growing quickly, but there were issues with non-uniformity in the fields that were underwater for long periods. Summer pastures were growing really well. Livestock were in good condition. The cattle market was strong. Grasshopper numbers were high in some areas. Wild hogs continued to cause damage.
Panhandle: Most of the region was hot and windy for the most of the week, with near-average temperatures. Soil moisture was mostly adequate. The warm and dry conditions allowed Collingsworth County farmers to catch up on fieldwork. Cotton there appeared to be overcoming too much moisture and was emerging. Acres not able to be planted in cotton were being switched over to grain sorghum or haygrazer. Dallam Hartley corn was progressing good under irrigation. Wheat looked good, and producers were taking a second cutting of alfalfa. Isolated storms in Deaf Smith County hailed out some wheat and cornfields. However, the corn crop in general was in good shape. Even the late-planted fields were in from three-to-four leaf to eight-to-ten leaf growth stage, so there will be a wide variance in the crops maturing. The condition of wheat there was also widely variable with many fields affected with disease issues and a wide range of maturity levels – even in the same field. Some grain sorghum acres were just being planted, while others were at the five-to-six leaf stage. Due to wet, damp and cool weather very few cotton acres were planted in Deaf Smith County. In Hansford County, areas north of Spearman and Gruver received the 2 inches of rain along with strong winds and hail. Corn, sorghum and cotton were doing great. The wheat harvesting started over the weekend south of Spearman. Irrigated and some dryland wheat looked really good, but weeds were starting to become a problem. Wheeler County producers finished planting cotton. Some cotton was just emerging. The crop was expected to be late to mature. Cattle were in good shape, but horn flies were troublesome in most all herds.
Rolling Plains: More rain fell across parts of the region. Montague County received 16 inches of rain, which brought the total rainfall since the beginning of May to more than 45 inches. Severe flooding displaced cattle, downed fences, and destroyed ponds and personal property. The wheat harvest was on hold because of the rain. Some cotton planting was prevented due to the rain. Hay producers were having trouble getting hay baled because of rain, but most weren’t complaining after four years of drought. Where hay could be harvested, yields were excellent. Livestock remained in good to excellent condition. Area reservoirs and stock-water tanks were full. Rangeland and pastures were in good to excellent condition. Farmers were focusing on weed and insect pest issues. The peach crop was looking very good with harvesting starting. The harvesting of most peaches will begin in two weeks and continue through July.
South: Tropical Storm Bill brought widespread thunderstorms and rain to much of the region, but no damaging winds. In the northern part of the region, corn and cotton were in good condition. Peanut and grain sorghum were in fair condition. Rangeland and pastures were in excellent condition. Frio County had warm days and minimal rain, which allowed producers to complete the wheat harvest and continue potato harvesting. In Live Oak County, conditions remained very wet, and many crops were damaged by too much moisture. Soil moisture conditions were generally adequate throughout the northern counties. In the eastern part of the region, Tropical Storm Bill brought 5 to 10 inches of rain in some areas, and many fields in those areas remain flooded. In Kleberg and Kenedy counties, cotton and sorghum fields looked great, and rangeland and pastures continued to improve. Weeds, though, continued to be a problem for many cattle producers in that area. Soil moisture was adequate in Jim Hogg and Jim Wells counties, and 100 percent surplus in Kleberg and Kenedy counties. In the western part of the region, there were reports of webworms in pecan orchards, but spraying controlled the pests. In Zavala County, timely and substantial rains resulted in big savings on irrigation costs. Cotton, corn, sorghum and pecans made excellent progress. Soil moisture conditions were generally adequate throughout the western counties. In the southern part of the region, Hidalgo sunflower harvesting was interrupted by heavy rains. Starr County grain producers were baling hay. Soil moisture was adequate in the southern counties.
South Plains: Some areas received rain — from light and isolated showers to widespread storms — with certain areas receiving from 2 to 5 inches. The moisture benefited crops, but made field work difficult. Earlier planted sorghum and corn looked very good. The wheat harvest was underway and yields are average to slightly above. Farmers were running sand-fighters cultivators over fields to stop blowing topsoil on some fields and to break crust to help seedling emergence on others. Pastures and rangeland were in good condition, and winter wheat harvest was in various stages, from just starting to being completed. Lubbock County cotton ranged from having one to five true leaves. Corn and sorghum were progressing well with exception of a few sorghum fields that were stunted in appearance. All Garza County cotton acres were planted, with crop development ranging from just emerged to the four-true-leaf stage. Some damage has been seen in cotton due to wet weather blight. In some low-lying areas, the crop showed signs of a lack of oxygen due to excessive soil moisture. Rangeland and pastures were in excellent condition, and cattle were mostly in good to excellent condition. Mitchell County received rain at the beginning of the week, which again kept farmers out of the fields. Scurry County also received rain that prevented cotton planting.
Southeast: Soil moisture throughout the region was mostly adequate to surplus, with San Jacinto, Chambers, Galveston and Hardin counties having 100 percent surplus levels. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely too, but were mostly good to excellent, with good ratings being the most common. San Jacinto County and Hardin County reported 100 percent excellent conditions. Brazos County got from 0.75 inch to 2.5 inches. Pastures and hayfields continued to benefit from abundant moisture. Brazoria County soybeans were blooming. In Chambers County, Tropical Storm Bill dropped from 4 to 11 inches of rain atop of already saturated ground. Some parts of the county had already met average rainfall totals for a full year. Some early rice that did not have to be replanted in late April was starting to head. Any more rains will make herbicide and fertilizer applications on rice difficult. In Fort Bend County, the tropical storm brought 3 to 6 inches of rain. Although producers got more rain than they wanted, they were spared the 12 inches of rain that fell to the south, so the extra moisture was manageable. Galveston County received heavy rains from Tropical Storm Bill too.
Southwest: Though Tropical Storm Bill brought rains, no major damage or flooding occurred. Rainfall totaled for the week ranged from 3 to 4 inches. Corn was in poor condition from too much water. Pasture conditions continued to improve, and rangeland was in good condition. Crops looked good as well, with above-average yields expected. Livestock were in fair condition.
West Central: The region had hot and very humid days with warm nights. Scattered showers fell in some areas, while others remained dry. Subsoil moisture remained good. Field activities increased as rain-soaked fields dried out. Producers were spraying for weeds. Cotton planting and wheat harvesting was nearly completed, though some wheat fields had to be abandoned due to poor quality and weeds. All row crops were off to a fine start due to good moisture conditions. Producers were cutting and baling hay, with the first-cutting yields above average with good quality. Grain and forage sorghum, and corn were in excellent condition. Rangeland and pastures were also in great shape. Livestock remained in good to excellent condition. Horn flies required some control in most herds. Stock-water tanks and ponds were in good condition. Cattle prices remained very good. Peaches were ready to harvest. Pecans were progressing well, with a heavy nut crop in some areas and light in others.