Brad Cowan, Hidalgo County Extension agent for agriculture reports conditions are a little worse in the Rio Grande Valley.

“Very few folks have been putting seed in the ground down here until now. It’s just too dry in most areas, and with a strong possibility that only one watering will be allocated from irrigation districts, no one wants to bet the rains will return any time soon,” Cowan said.

But over the last week some planting progress has been made and light rain has fallen in some areas. In Hidalgo County, a few farmers are finally planting corn and grain sorghum and are almost finished planting sunflowers. In Starr County, spring vegetable and row-crop planting is underway. In Willacy County, growers began planting grain sorghum the second week of February and some of the crop had already emerged.

“But we are going to see fewer acres of cotton as a result of dry conditions and probably less sorghum as well. By and large we are in a terrible hurt for rain,” Cowan added.

Across other areas of South Texas, in Frio County potatoes have emerged and wheat and oats were reported in fair condition. In Jim Wells County, ample moisture helped row crops a little, but more rain was needed to promote establishment. Maverick County wheat was doing well under irrigation.

In Zavala County, very dry conditions have stressed dryland wheat and oats. Producers with irrigation were watering winter vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, onions and carrots. Also in that area, harvest of processed and fresh-market spinach was very active, while some cabbage fields were not quite ready for harvest.

Friday is the cutoff date for purchasing a new crop insurance policy and/or for adding a crop for coverage that a farmer has never grown before. It is also the deadline for changing the coverage on a currently insured crop.

USDA is reminding producers to remember that a crop insurance policy is a continuous policy that renews automatically. If a crop producer does not want his policy to continue, he must cancel his policy by the March 15th deadline.

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