Strong storm cells swept through parts of East and North Central Texas on April 27, bringing tornadoes along with some much needed rain, reported Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the same storm complex that gave rise to the tornadoes brought as much as 5 inches of rain to parts of extreme northeast Texas. Central portions of East Texas in the Tyler and Longview area received 3 to 4 inches.
More common was the 1 inch to 1.5 inches that was received in parts of Central and North Texas and the Rolling Plains region. Parts of the Panhandle received a trace of rain to 0.5 inch, while the drought worsened in South and West Texas.
As the drought worsened in those areas, dryland spring crops were failing, and farmers were forced to delay or restrict planting of later-season crops such as cotton and grain sorghum, according to reports from AgriLife Extension county agents.
"The dryland wheat crop is very slim this year; some partial fields may be harvested, but with very low yields," said Rick Auckerman, AgriLife Extension agent in Deaf Smith County. "The irrigated wheat is surviving with producers having very high inputs into these crops. Many producers are opting to wait on moisture before planting anything. Those that were planting corn on limited-water areas are looking at cotton or commercial grain sorghum in some cases.
“Cotton plantings are not far off, and there are stories out there that there is already some cotton in the ground. At $300 a bag for cottonseed, it would seem that producers would take more care than that."
"Total precipitation averaged 0.2 inch for the county, which wasn't much, but everyone is thankful for what we got," said Ryan Martin, AgriLife Extension agent for Motley County, southeast of Amarillo. "This year's winter wheat crop didn't last long as there was absolutely no moisture for it to grow. Farmers are still trying to prepare acres for this year's cotton crop, but they are having difficult times. Without any measurable moisture, fields are as hard as a rock and producers are having trouble getting a plow in the ground."
"Lake and pond levels improved from the runoff," said Rick Hirsch, AgriLife Extension agent in Henderson County, west of Tyler, who reported his area got from 1 inch to 4 inches of rain. "Hay supplies are still short, and producers are feeding hay and supplements. Grass was responding slowly to improving growing conditions."
"We're still super dry and windy, and still no measurable moisture since September in most areas of the county," said Arlan Gentry, AgriLife Extension agent for Ward County, north of Fort Stockton. "Range and pastures are very dry, brittle and brown, and set up for a major wildfire."
"Corn is still green; however, it is only 3 to 4 feet tall and starting to tassel; wheat is stunted as well," said Joe Taylor, AgriLife Extension agent for Atascosa County, south of San Antonio. "It will be interesting to find out what is really out there to harvest."
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/.