Many parts of the state continued to receive heavy rains, bringing them completely out of the drought. Other areas were not so fortunate, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert.
“It’s a mixed bag,” said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension agronomist and a member of the Governor’s Drought Preparedness Council. “Central and eastern Texas are in pretty good shape. Southern and western Texas and the High Plains are very short.”
The better news — even for the areas that remain in severe or exceptional drought — is there’s a good chance overall conditions could improve soon, Miller said.
“The projection is that the La Niña phase is weakening, and should phase out in April or May,” he said.
Though La Niña is predicted to phase out a little earlier than the one last year, the projections for this summer are for higher-than-normal temperatures and a little below-normal precipitation, he said.
Miller noted that the Blacklands, East and Central Texas regions are in much better shape than last year.
“The Blacklands look great!” Miller said. “We got wheat across the Blacklands that is as good as I’ve seen in 10 years, and it also is good across the eastern parts of the Rolling Plains, down to Abilene and that area. San Angelo looks good too.”
The bad news is Far West Texas, where they have had almost no rain, he said. Much of the South Plains are also very moisture deficit, as are parts of the western Rolling Plains. The outlook for crops in those areas remains poor.
“They had a rain or two in the past week, depending upon where you were, but they remain in bad need of more moisture in the soil profile for the upcoming planting season,” he said.
There was enough rain south of Victoria to raise soil-moisture levels enough to plant, Miller said. Most of the crops in that area are in, and farmers are currently planting cotton, but all crops will need more rain soon to be successful.
“Last year, it was not a mixed bag,” he said. “It was uniformly bad across the state.”
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/