Texas Rain Report: The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

For those of you interested in agribusiness, here is the latest Texas A&M Texas AgriLife Extension Service report from Robert Burns. It’s a crazy, big state we live in.

When it comes to rain, Texas remains a state split into the haves and have-nots, according to reports by Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

While North Texas fields are still drying out from deluges of 12-15 inches, the drought continues to plague South Texas. Drowned-out corn is yellowing and stunted. Wheat, as in many other parts of Texas, got hit first by late freezes. In North Texas, the same flood that hurt corn further damaged wheat.

The condition of the Texas cotton crop varied widely. In most of the southern parts of Texas, few crops were doing well, including cotton. In the Weslaco area, where dryland cotton is the rule, the crop is all but lost, according to AgriLife Extension agronomists.

In the Panhandle, many counties received rain, but some counties remained dry. Those growers who could irrigate have had better luck with their cotton. Most dryland growers have delayed planting, waiting for more moisture.

“If rain dances would work, I’d be rich,” said J.D. Ragland, AgriLife Extension agent for Floyd County, northeast of Lubbock. “It still remains extremely dry here, and it’s becoming critical. Our window in getting our dryland planted is narrowing and if rain is not received by about the first part of the second week in June, dryland cotton won’t be planted this year in Floyd County.”

But Southwest Texas is hardest hit, where the last nine months have been the driest on record. Forages were practically non-existent and stock water tanks critically low. Livestock producers continued to provide heavy supplemental nutrition to remaining livestock.

Southeast, East Texas and the Rolling Plains remained in fair to good condition. With adequate soil moisture, most crops, pasture and rangeland were in good shape.

More information on drought in Texas can be found at the Web site of the Drought Joint Information Center at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/ .

The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters:

CENTRAL: Rains helped crops, but runoff was not sufficient to refill stock water tanks. Producers began first hay cuttings with good yields despite a dry spring. Wheat was nearly ready for harvest but yields were predicted to be low. Cotton, corn, milo and oats were thriving with good yields expected. Livestock were in good condition as pastures improved because of the rain.

COASTAL BEND: Some rain was received; more was forecast. Crops in the southern portion of the reporting area were in poor shape and remained drought-stressed. Insurance companies were adjusting crops and paying farmers. Livestock producers continued tofeed supplements as forage was limited.

EAST: Little to no rain was received. Soil moisture remained high throughout most of the area. However, more rain was needed to keep warm-season grasses growing. Many producers baled hay. The vegetable harvest was delayed by cool, wet weather. Livestock were in good condition.

FAR WEST: Scattered rain showers were reported with accumulations of 0.1-2 inches. Dryland cotton planting was in full swing. Most of the irrigated cotton planting was completed. Most wheat was harvested as hay, not grain.

NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from adequate to surplus, but the region was still recovering from earlier excessive rains. Sunshine and warmer temperatures helped dry out water-logged fields. Crops in low-lying fields were damaged by earlier heavy rains. Most corn was in poor condition, stunted and yellowing. Corn producers tried to top dress fields before the next rain, but were concerned they may be late. The wheat crop that was damaged by the two early April freezes also suffered water damage, and harvest may be delayed. The wheat heads were light, but producers fear a delayed harvest could mean some sprouting in the heads. The heavy rains also delayed the harvest of early season hay, not diminishing quantity but hurting quality. Hay yields in some counties were disappointing due to grass growth being slowed by cool nights. However, the warming temperatures and adequate moisture have made favorable growing conditions for the next cutting. Sorghum, soybeans and rice were in fair to good condition. Cotton planting was ongoing. Livestock were in fair to good condition and gaining weight. Rangeland and pastures were in fair to good condition.

PANHANDLE: Soil moisture was short to adequate. Temperatures were slightly above average until a cold front brought them back to normal. Most of the area received rain, which helped wheat, but because of drought and late freezes the crop remained in poor condition and yields were expected to be low. Growers continued to plant corn; some fields were under limited-irrigation scheduling. Producers in some areas were still deliberating on what to plant. Pastures greened up, and the body condition scores for cattle improved. However, more moisture will be needed to sustain cattle over the summer.

ROLLING PLAINS: Beautiful weather allowed for optimal spring planting conditions – and insect pests. Cattle were doing well despite the abundance of flies. However, mosquitoes were flourishing and becoming a problem. Rebuilding of fences damaged by earlier wildfires was in full swing. Pastures damaged by wildfire continued to show improvement. Many ranchers affected by the wildfires were spraying for weeds and prickly pear while the grass was short. Bermuda grass pastures were really beginning to take off, especially those that were fertilized. Cotton planting has been slowed however. Stock water tanks caught some runoff, and pastures greened up in some counties. In other counties, particularly Stonewall County, dry conditions continued, and livestock water was becoming critically low.

SOUTH: Soil moisture conditions were short to very short in the region’s eastern counties; very short throughout the rest. Some counties received 1-2 inches of rain. The rain, along with cool temperatures, helped green up rangeland and pastures but did not affect soil moisture levels much. Harvesting of green beans and potatoes continued. Peanut planting was in full swing. Corn, cotton and sorghum made progress in the northern parts of the region. In the eastern parts of the region, planting of corn, sorghum and cotton were completed, but all crops were in poor condition. Crop adjusters continued working on rating grain sorghum, with much of the crop being zeroed-out. Producers were actively harvesting cabbage and onions. Melon harvesting continued, and the onion harvesting wound down. Livestock producers throughout the region were still struggling to fill stock water tanks. Some producers were using windmills while others were hauling water to their cattle on a weekly basis. Supplemental feeding of livestock continued.

SOUTH PLAINS: The region remained dry, but temperatures were mild with highs in the 80s and lows in the 50s. Soil moisture was very short to short. Planting of corn, sunflowers, sorghum and peanuts continued. Cotton planting continued, with irrigated fields being watered until stands are established. Dryland cotton needed rain. Wheat was in very poor to poor condition and began to dry down. Pastures and rangeland were in very poor to poor condition. Reports of critically low tank levels became more numerous. Cattle were in good condition with supplemental feed.

SOUTHEAST: Pasture conditions were good. Soil moisture was adequate. Hay production was in full swing. Crop conditions were good. Cattle were gaining weight, and some areas were harvesting coastal Bermuda grass hay. A cool front dropped nighttime temperatures to the upper 50s. From 0.5-0.75 inch of was received.

SOUTHWEST: Sporadic thunderstorms brought some rain, but the region remained dry. San Antonio remains under Stage 1 drought restrictions. According to a scientific-grade weather station at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Uvalde, the region is entering summer with the last nine-month period as the driest period on record. The recent rain and cool weather greened-up parts of region, but forage availability was in short supply. Pastures, rangeland and dryland crops made little progress. Ranchers continued to provide heavy supplemental nutrition to remaining livestock. The cabbage, onion and potato harvests continued. Corn was tasseling, and some sorghum began to form heads. Most dryland crops were not making good progress. However, heavily irrigated crops made excellent progress.

WEST CENTRAL: Warm, dry conditions continued. A few counties reported significant rainfall. Irrigated cotton was planted. More moisture was needed for planting dryland cotton. Weed control programs and fertilization were under way. Rangeland and pastures improved. However, stock water tank and pond levels were dropping daily and becoming a major concern. Some producers were considering further culling herds because of lack of water. Growers were spraying for pecan nut casebearer.

3 comments on “Texas Rain Report: The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

  1. good item. Thanks for posting. Those who are serious about making a connection with the farm should make some effort to understand conditions farms face.

  2. It’s exactly the kind of information most people seek out in connection with an urbane, sophisticated, special-interest media source like D.

    By the way, the wheat growing along the North Dallas Tollway in Plano has been harvested in the last week. Milo is firmly rooted but not yet starting to send up panicles.

    Live cattle are 81.45 on the CME, down from 82.35 at the close Thursday.