Drought and higher-than-normal temperatures prevailed across the state this week, according to reports from Texas Cooperative Extension officials.
“Wildfire conditions are extreme in most of the counties with local volunteer fire departments staying very busy,” said Galen Chandler, Extension district director in Vernon. “The situation is bleak for our agricultural producers across this region.”
Jose Pena, district Extension director in Ulvade, said, “Only about 4 inches of rain have been received in since mid-October, compared to a long term average of about 19.3 inches for the same period. The last 305 days have been, by far, the driest period in over 100 years of records.”
Area reports from Extension follow:
PANHANDLE: Temperatures were above average. Isolated thunderstorms yielded rainfall amounts between traces to a half-inch. Most of the area received no rain. Soil moisture is rated adequate to very short, and most areas reported short to very short. Corn is rated fair to good with a few fields rated excellent. Cotton and peanuts are rated mostly fair to good with no major pest problems. Sorghum rated poor to. Soybeans are rated fair.
SOUTH PLAINS: Temperatures remained in the mid to high 90s with a few light showers. Soil moisture is very short to short. Cotton is in fair condition. Irrigated cotton is rapidly approaching cut-out with most of the standing dryland acres already reaching cut-out. Corn is in good condition. Peanuts are in fair to good condition. Sorghum is in poor to fair condition. Pastures and ranges are in very poor to poor condition. Cattle were in fair to good condition with supplemental feeding continuing.
ROLLING PLAINS: The conditions remained the same — hot, dry, and windy. A few counties received from .20- to .30-inch of rain last week.
Wildfire conditions are extreme and most counties are under burn bans. Dryland cotton across the area is in bad condition. Irrigated cotton looks average; however, it wilts during the heat of the day. Stock tanks are very low to dry. Hay is in extremely short supply.
NORTH: Severe drought continues. Most corn and sorghum fields are being baled for hay. Some producers are supplemental feeding. Severe herd liquidation or culling has resulted from no forage and the high cost of feeding. Excessive heat is drying up pastures and ponds.
EAST: Up to 3 inches of rain was received in isolated areas this week. Areas that received rain have reported improved conditions in pastures and hay fields. San Augustine County hay producers will get a fourth cutting this year, with surplus hay being sold for $40 per roll.
Most counties that reported rain also indicated that hay supplies remain critical. Where available, hay prices range from $55 to $75 per roll and $5 for square bales in the field. Most areas received no rain and reported serious drought conditions. Producers began deeply culling herds because of very short hay yields. The cotton crop in Houston County is late but looks fair.
FAR WEST: Widely scattered showers were reported throughout the area. Soil moisture ranges from very short to surplus. Range and pastures were in very poor to good condition across the district with the exception of El Paso, where pastures range from good to excellent due to the rain received. Cotton ranges from very poor to excellent condition. Temperatures have been a few degrees cooler this week.
WEST CENTRAL: Very hot, dry conditions continued this week. Temperatures remained in the upper 90s to 100s, and no significant rain reported. Grasslands are extremely dry, and fire danger is critical. Small grain fields are ready to sow when moisture arrives. Most hay fields have been plowed under. Sorghum is being harvested with below-average yields. Irrigated corn has been harvested, with lower-than-
expected yields. Fall armyworms have moved into irrigated hay fields. Livestock are in fair to poor body condition. Liquidation of livestock herds has increased. Decreased productivity of both range and improved grass pastures continues.
CENTRAL: Some counties received a small amount of rainfall. Pasture conditions continue to decline and liquidation of herds continues. Feed prices are extremely high.
SOUTHEAST: July rains provided some good hay production, but conditions are getting dry again. Isolated showers have kept areas of the county in good shape, but conditions continue to be dry and hot. Crops, pastures and hay meadows are burning up. Cattle culling has increased. There is limited hay baling, and some grain crops are being harvested. Milo is very poor. Corn is also poor, with 30- to 50-bushel-per-acre yields. A few melons are still being brought to market, but size and quality is down. Ponds and small lakes used for livestock watering are in desperate shape.
SOUTHWEST: Drought conditions are critical. The corn and sorghum harvest is complete with disappointing yields, down nearly 70 percent from last year. The cotton harvest from irrigated fields shows excellent yields. Production from dryland fields will be down about 80 percent. Ranches with livestock are providing heavy supplemental feeding.
COASTAL BEND: Isolated showers delayed harvest in some areas. Some soybean acreage was not harvested because excessive rains rotted the seed in the pods. The intermittent rain also delayed harvest of cotton and could affect quality. Corn harvest is nearing completion. Some fields have not been harvested because of wet conditions. Hay production continues.
SOUTH: Most areas reported very short to adequate soil moisture. A high percentage of the region remains in very poor condition. Sorghum harvesting was completed in some parts of the region due to hot, dry conditions and low moisture levels. Cotton and some hay fields remain under irrigation. Many cotton fields have been shredded because the crops were in poor condition. Water sources for livestock and wildlife have been very scarce. Hay production continues for livestock producers.