Coastal Bend Extension agent Jeffrey Stapper, Nueces County, reports rains last week were good but spotty with some benefit to some cotton and sorghum fields but with little effect on others. Grain sorghum harvest is underway across the region and crops are reported in fair condition after drought stress was reported in many fields.

“The drought of 2011 has continued into 2012 in South Texas and the lack of soil moisture along with above normal temperatures has resulted in some significant stress on some grain sorghum. As a result, seed formation was hampered, likely from stress in the sorghum plant. This symptom is consistent with heat stress during panicle (head) formation while the developing heads are still wrapped in the stalk surrounded by leaf sheaths,” Stapper noted in this week’s Coastal Bend Agriculture Briefs.

He says many fields that failed to receive rain last month are a total loss and some producers are plowing under or harvesting for forage. Nitrate toxicity is suspect in some sorghum, however, and may have been amplified when high a rate of nitrogen fertilizer was applied prior to the stress period.

Because of dry conditions, many sorghum and cotton producers opted to apply harvest aids last week. While rains may have adversely affected their effectiveness, producers are currently scouting fields to determine if harvesting will begin next week once the 7- to 14-day period between application and harvest has passed.  Many producers who collected samples are still awaiting results from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Soil, Water, and Forage Testing Laboratory. If nitrates are discovered at toxicity level, harvest may be delayed for treatment, or the crop may be declared a total loss.

Stapper has prepared a table that indicates the cost per acre for a number of harvest aids used in cotton and grain sorghum. To view the table, click here.