Though cool by comparison to some parts of the country, much of Texas was frying going into the July 4 holiday, according to reports from Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
While parts of the Midwest and Eastern U.S. were hotter, the triple-digit temperatures throughout the state complicated chances of recovery from last year’s drought.
According to the National Weather Service, many areas only received traces of rain — 0.25 inch or less during the last week of June. There were some heavier rains along the Coastal Bend and South Texas areas. But except for a few isolated incidences of 2 to 3 inches, accumulations were generally 1 inch or less.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor for June 26, there were no areas of exceptional drought. But only a few East Texas and Coastal Bend counties were spared being either abnormally dry or under moderate to severe or extreme drought conditions.
The Panhandle, South Plains and Far West regions remained the hardest hit.
Ryan Martin, AgriLife Extension agent for Motley County, southeast of Amarillo, reported: “Area producers had a decent start to this year, but these past few weeks have turned everything completely around. With daytime temperatures reaching 100-plus degrees, no rain and hot, dry winds, pastures and cotton fields are beginning to show the signs. Currently we are setting at close to 6 inches of moisture total for the year, which hasn’t done much to replenish the soil-moisture content. At this time it looks like the only thing that can turn our situation around would be a hurricane.”
“Extremely high temperatures and windy conditions have producers running pivots as hard as they can right now trying to keep up with water demand,” said Brad Easterling, AgriLife Extension agent for Sherman County, north of Amarillo on the Texas/Oklahoma border.
“Topsoil moisture is very depleted and rain is needed soon,” said Josh Blanek, AgriLife Extension agent for Andrews County, north of Odessa. “Producers are weaning and selling calves early to allow cows to rest and help reduce feed consumption.”
“The rains we received two weeks ago were very beneficial, but now that moisture is gone,” said Rick Maxwell, AgriLife Extension agent for Collin County, northeast of Dallas. “The last five or six days have been at 100 degrees or above.”
“Pastures and hay fields are making little growth due to hot temperatures and lack of moisture,” said Mark Currie, AgriLife Extension agent for Polk County, north of Houston. “Producers are trying to put up all the hay they can and hopefully avoid buying hay. If rains are not received soon, many will need to purchase at least some of their hay again this year.”
“Dry, hot and, at times, windy conditions persisted this week,” said Jesse Lea Schneider, AgriLife Extension agent for Presidio County, in Far West Texas. “Stifling heat with highs lingered around 100 in the mountains and were as high as 116 along the river. Pastures have now lost their green tinge and are browning.”
“Just like all over West Texas, we have been very dry and very hot,” said Anthony Munoz, AgriLife Extension agent for Schleicher County, south of San Angelo. “On Wednesday we received some sprinkles for about half an hour but just enough to settle the dust. The dryland cotton isn’t all that bad, but it sure could use a drink.”
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/.