Dry conditions continue to take a toll on agriculture production across the state, according to Texas Cooperative Extension.
The recently completed Rolling Plains wheat harvest “will be remembered as one of the worst crops ever,” said Galen Chandler, district Extension administrator in Vernon. Cotton planting is almost complete and most producers report skimpy stands or no stand at all, he said. Hot, dry winds have drained soil moisture and most cotton hasn’t emerged fast enough to take advantage of what little moisture there is, Chandler said.
Panhandle temperatures were 10 degrees to 15 degrees above average all week. Heavy irrigation is helping corn, which is rated fair to good.
Spider mites continue to infest a few fields.
In the East region, scattered rain showers up to 1.5 inches were reported, but most areas didn’t receive any moisture. Hot temperatures are adding to drought conditions. Hay harvest continues with production well below normal for this time of year, said Ramona Kellam, district Extension administrator in Overton.
Stressed pastures and problems with grasshoppers were reported throughout the district, Kellam said.
Extension officials reported the following conditions for the week:
PANHANDLE: Temperatures were above average all week. A few isolated showers were reported with up to 0.1 inches received. Soil moisture is rated short to very short. Corn is rated fair to good. Irrigation is heavy. Spider mites continue to infest a few fields. Most of the cotton has been planted. A few fields had to be replanted because of high winds.
Stands are rated fair to good. Thrip infestations are high. Peanut stands are rated good. No pest problems have been reported. Sorghum continues to be planted. Stands are rated very poor to fair. Soybean stands are rated fair. No pest problems have been reported. Wheat harvest is about 40 percent complete. Reported yields are poor because of dry weather and disease. Range conditions vary from fair to very poor. Fire danger continues to be high in much of the area. Cattle are rated in fair to good condition.
SOUTH PLAINS: Hot, dry, windy days prevailed most of last week with several days posting temperatures exceeding 100 F. All field crops are very short on available soil moisture and in need of significant rainfall.
Native pastures and tanks are in need of a soaking rain. Cotton planting is 98 percent complete, but much of the dryland acreage was dry planted and will need a rain to germinate. Peanut planting is complete and grain sorghum planting is 80 percent complete. Corn continues rapid growth, and wheat harvest is 60 percent complete with below-average yields being reported. A few areas have been replanted. Many failed acres of cotton soon will be planted to grain sorghum, haygrazer or sunflowers. Rainfall is needed in most areas of the region. Weed control, irrigation and fertilizer applications continue on most farms. Cattle are in fair to good condition with stocking rates on native pasture below average.
ROLLING PLAINS: Hot, dry winds have sapped soil moisture and most cotton was not able to emerge fast enough to take advantage of available moisture. Pastures are extremely poor. Tanks are drying. Cattle are being sold due to having no grass or hay and the high cost of having hay shipped in. NORTH: Soil moisture ranges from very short to adequate. Corn, soybeans, sorghum, rice and other crops are in fair to good condition, but are suffering from lack of moisture. Wheat harvest should end next week.
Pasture quality and supply is diminishing; producers might have to start additional feeding and supplementation earlier than expected. Grasshopper population is increasing. Bowie County received 1 inch to 4 inches of rain. Peach varieties requiring more chilling hours are not producing.
Most other peach varieties are producing well. Producers have finished setting out sweet potato slips, but report little soil moisture. There are no irrigation capabilities.
EAST: Scattered rain showers of up to 1.5 inches were reported, but most areas did not receive any moisture. Conditions were hot and dry. Hay harvest continued with production well below normal. Stressed pastures and problems with grasshoppers were reported. Some producers are spraying to save what grass they have. Some producers are feeding hay, but it is scarce and very expensive; others are selling off cattle. Cattle markets varied with some areas reporting steady to higher prices on good bred cows, choice pairs and better-quality calves. Commercial vegetable produce is being sold at local farmer’s markets. Watermelon harvest is in full swing with good yields and prices. June peaches are being harvested, with some brown rot reported.
FAR WEST: Soil moisture ranges from very short to adequate, and crops and pastures are in very poor to good condition. Cotton is 65 percent to 100 percent planted and in very poor to good condition. Oats are in fair to good condition. Winter wheat is in very poor to poor condition.
Temperatures have been in the triple digits. Wildfires are a major threat; rain is needed.
WEST CENTRAL: Temperatures remained in the 100 F range in most areas.
No rainfall was reported. Extremely hot, dry conditions have depleted soil moisture. Cotton planting has stopped due to lack of moisture. Dry conditions have affected grain sorghum growth. Small grain harvest continues. Cutting and baling some hay fields continue. All corn is being irrigated. Range and pastures are suffering from heat and dryness. Forages and grasses are diminishing rapidly. Livestock remain in fair condition.
CENTRAL: Pasture and range are dying quickly. Producers are selling older cows and weaning calves for sale. Coastal hay has hit all-time high prices. Feed prices are increasing almost daily. Corn and sorghum are showing drought stress.
SOUTHWEST: Except for about one-third of South Central Texas, which received some rain on June 1, most of the region remains dry. Pastures, ranges and yard grasses are decimated. Except for deferred pastures, forage is gone. Stocking rates have been reduced and heavy supplementation is being provided for remaining livestock. Recreation income potential is in jeopardy with drying stock tanks, low river flows and stressed wildlife. Harvests of onions, green beans, potatoes and cucumbers for pickling continue. The corn and sorghum harvests should start in two to three weeks. Corn and sorghum are starting to dry down. Some farmers fear problems with aflatoxin contamination in corn due to drought stress in May. Cotton, peanuts, pecans, cantaloupes and watermelons are making good progress under heavy irrigation. Dryland crops are not making any progress.
COASTAL BEND: Hot, dry weather was reported this week. Dry conditions continue as evidenced by drought stress and afternoon wilting on. Many of the early-planted cotton fields are now nearing the stage of cutout, particularly in locations that received less than 1 inch of rain last week. Range and pastures continue to show gradual improvements in locations that received more than 1 inch of rainfall. Some ranchers are continuing to sell their cattle where drought is severe.
SOUTH: Conditions are hot and dry throughout the region. Cotton, corn and irrigated sorghum are making good progress with minor insect damage. Onion harvest will continue for the next two weeks. Watermelons and cantaloupes are developing well. Sorghum harvest will begin soon. Some pastures have improved with recent rainfall, but most continue to be dry and hot. Producers are supplementing most livestock operations.