In South Texas, recent rainfall has improved prospects for cotton and grain sorghum.

Jimmy Dodson, Corpus Christi, Texas, cotton and sorghum producer, says the South Texas Coastal Bend area south of Victoria may be one of the bright spots in the state as crops begin to mature. To the north, conditions are much worse.

“Corn north of Victoria is about burned up,” he said.

“A small percentage, probably less than 10 percent, of cotton fields south of Victoria have failed because of no stand,” he said. “The prospects for the rest of the crop depend on whether fields got showers in late April and early May.”

The area had from 1.5 to 2 inches of rain during that period—in small showers. The area also had 5 inches of rain in January to provide early-season moisture.

Dodson said some of his cotton plants have long root systems that have pushed down to that deep moisture. As he talked to Southwest Farm Press on the phone, he described a cotton plant he was holding. “It’s about 24 inches long with 8 mature bolls and 3 immature ones,” he said. “If we don’t get rain soon, the immature ones will fall off.

“I just came out of a cotton field that could make 2.5 bales per acre, if it gets rain this week,” he said. “It needs that rain to hold fruit. But the roots are unbelievable.”

He retains some optimism for the 2011 crop.

“We can still make a normal crop if we get rain this week. If we get rain within two weeks, we can make a crop that’s just below normal. If we get no more rain, we’ll make a half or two-thirds of a crop.”

He said milo could make two-thirds to three-fourths of a crop with no more rain. He expects grain sorghum to average from 3,000 to 3,500 pounds per acre without additional rainfall.

Crops are maturing early because of unusually high heat units. “We’re at 33 percent more heat units than our 30-year average,” he said.

Not all of South Texas has fared as well. Dodson said parts of the Lower Rio Grande Valley have been hit hard by drought. “The Upper Coast is a wreck and the area around Uvalde and Winter Garden is a wreck.”

He said reports indicate that the Frio River is at the lowest flow since 1951, at about 1 cubic foot per minute. Normal flow is around 27 cubic feet per minute.

“The worst place I’ve seen is around McCook.” He said cattlemen are feeding cattle and still seeing death losses. Deer and hogs are also thin and just hanging on.

Good prices will help, Dodson said. “If we can make a crop we have a lifetime opportunity. Prices are good, so we will be okay.”

Dodson said wheat yields have ranged from 10 bushels to 50 bushels per acre, “depending on if the fields got showers or not.

Infrastructure, he said, “will take it on the nose,” as cotton gins and grain elevators see significant less business from reduced production.

Webb Wallace, Cotton and GrainProducers of theLower Rio Grande Valley, says grain harvest is about to begin.

“Producers are busy spraying glyphosate and just beginning harvest,” Wallace said. “Dryland cotton is all cut out (due to lack of rainfall), and I expect to find some open bolls this week.  Irrigated cotton is very good and still in full to late bloom on the good, deep soils( about two-thirds of the crop) and too short and headed for an early cutout on the one-third growing on heavy soil or even slightly salty land.