What is in this article?:
- Texas grain sorghum plantings are up by about 750,000 acres over last year.
- Prices remain strong.
- Less risk with grain sorghum than corn.
By the end of June, sorghum near Kerens in Central Texas was already changing color.
Hot and Dry
Rolling Plains: The region remained hot and dry with high temperatures above 100 degrees. A few counties reported that rangeland and pastures were in fair condition, but pastures were declining fast in many areas. Most dryland cotton needed rain. Grasshopper pressure increased, and some producers were spraying to control them. Livestock were generally in good condition but starting to decline. Many calves from the cowherds still left were being sold early. Some ranchers were beginning to have problems with water wells with dropping groundwater levels. Ranchers had not only to provide supplemental feed to cattle but also to haul water to some areas. Area lake levels were at about 50 percent capacity. Pecan trees were lost to drought.
South: Only three weeks into the summer and high temperatures were depleting soil-moisture levels. All counties in the region have reported short to very short soil moisture. Crops under irrigation were doing well. Those fields not under irrigation were stressed. Rangeland and pastures continued to turn brown rapidly. Ranchers were increasing supplemental feeding of livestock.
Stock-tank water levels were dropping; some tanks were already completely dry. Corn harvesting began in Frio County. Jim Wells County cotton was in good condition, improved with 0.5 inch to 4 inches of rain. In Live Oak County, harvesting the remaining corn crop was ongoing. Much of the corn and grain sorghum crops in that area were zeroed-out by insurance adjusters. In Maverick County, watermelon, grain sorghum and hay harvesting continued. In Zavala County, cotton progressed well, the watermelon harvest was completed and the grain sorghum harvest began. In Cameron County, cotton was setting bolls, and conditions were favorable for maturing corn and harvesting grain sorghum. In Hidalgo County, the sunflower harvest was mostly complete and the grain sorghum harvest was finished. In Starr and Willacy counties, the grain sorghum harvest was nearly complete.
South Plains: Temperatures ranged from the mid-to upper 90s with high winds. A few spotty, light showers were reported, which helped cotton as it entered the bloom stage. Irrigated cotton continued to progress well, but dryland cotton began to show signs of stress due to lack of moisture. Some grain sorghum was in the boot stage. Some hail-damaged cotton fields were being replanted to grain sorghum. Corn was silking, and sunflowers began to bloom. Producers were dealing with insect pests, spraying weeds, cultivating and replanting in some areas. Pasture and rangeland were still holding on in most locations but needed rain soon. Livestock were in mostly good condition.
Southeast: Rain helped forage growth, but some producers still had dry ponds. Hot, dry conditions were still limiting warm-season forage production. Dryland corn was drying down quickly and was expected to be ready for harvest 15 to 20 days earlier than normal. Grasshoppers continued to be a problem is some areas. Rice looked very good in Chambers County with most farmers spraying fungicide to avoid blast and other diseases.
Southwest: Dry, hot weather persisted. Pastures continued to decline. Hay harvesting slowed dramatically. Cattle were beginning to show signs of stress, and producers remained hesitant to restock. Milo and corn were drying down quickly, and harvest was expected to begin soon.
West Central: Continued hot, dry, windy weather took their toll on soil moisture. A few areas received some scattered showers but none were significant. Some grain sorghum and Sudan hay crops were harvested early due to poor growing conditions. Cotton was showing signs of moisture stress. Producers were irrigating where water was available. Producers were stubble mulching wheat fields in preparation for fall wheat and oat planting. Rangeland and pastures continued to decline. Prussic acid problems increased in summer annual forages. Stock-tank levels were critically low in some areas. Livestock remained in fair condition.
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/.