Recent warmer temperatures have helped with the cotton harvest in some areas, but the statewide lack of rain has slowed crop production overall, according to Texas Cooperative Extension reports.
Winter pastures and small-grains fields are struggling to survive, and producers statewide are irrigating crops to compensate for lack of soil moisture. In many areas, fields are too dry to sow small grains and early planted fields have ceased to grow.
Prospects for decent wheat crops are becoming dim in many parts of the state, said Dr. Mark Welch, grain marketing specialist for Extension.
"With the lack of rainfall and the situation with new wheat crops not growing, things are starting to get serious around the southern High Plains," he said. "With low prospects for rain, many farmers in the Panhandle and nearby areas are opting to avoid the cost of seed and fertilizer and are deciding not to plant wheat in fields where it was previously planted."
Welch said continued lack of rain combined with colder temperatures could have a significant impact on this season's wheat production and on the international wheat market, but it's still too early to tell.
"Wheat is a very resilient crop," he said. "And it's still relatively early in the season. If we get some more rain, there's a good chance this situation can turn around."
The following reports are from Extension officials:
PANHANDLE: Soil moisture ranges from very short to adequate. All counties need moisture for wheat and pasture growth. Corn harvest is complete. Cotton ranges from very poor to excellent with most areas reporting good. Cotton harvest continues and yields are being reported as above average. The peanut harvest is almost complete. Sorghum harvest continues. Sunflower harvest is about 80 percent complete. Wheat condition ranges from very poor to adequate with most areas reporting fair. Most areas report moisture is needed. Dryland wheat is moisture-stressed and beginning to dry in some areas. Range conditions are very poor to good with most areas in fair condition. Cattle are in good condition. Supplemental feeding is under way in some areas.
SOUTH PLAINS: Weather has remained warm allowing for continued harvest. Highs this week were mostly in the upper 70s F with no rainfall. Cotton harvest continues with very good yields for irrigated and dryland cotton. A few producers were again spraying defoliants this week. A killing freeze would be helpful to complete the cotton harvest. Grain sorghum harvest is nearing completion, and yields are way above average. Peanut harvest is winding down. Winter wheat is in fair to good condition with some producers irrigating their fields. Pastures and ranges are in fair to good condition and in need of some moisture. Cattle conditions are mostly good with some supplemental feeding.
ROLLING PLAINS: Dry weather continues to cause problems for area producers. However, conditions are great for cotton farmers. Temperatures have warmed up with some cool nights. Cotton yields look good. Small-grain fields are in need of moisture. The fields are too dry currently to sow small grains, and early planted fields have ceased to grow. Winter wheat is trying to survive, but some fields are not going to make it unless they receive rain soon. Pasture forage is decreasing due to cooler temperatures and lack of moisture. Fall cattle work is being done. Some ranchers have started adding supplemental feed. Insect pressure is minimal, although green bugs can be found in a few hot spots.
NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from short to adequate. Producers are becoming concerned about lack of rain. Pastures are in fair to good condition but need moisture. A cool front came through, but no precipitation came with it. Most small-grain planting and winter annual pasture grass planting is complete. The wheat crop is in fair to good condition. Pecan harvest is ongoing with 25 percent to 50 percent of the crop harvested. Livestock are in good condition.
EAST: Dry conditions prevail with unseasonably warm temperatures. Winter pasture planting is below average due to fertilizer costs, hay supply and dry conditions. Winter pastures that have germinated need rain for good growth. Stock tanks, lakes and creeks are dry to nearly dry in some locations. Hay cutting and baling continues as producers try to get last cuttings of the year. Cattle remain in good body condition. Scab on pecans has been reported, but the crop is giving good to excellent yields.
FAR WEST: Soil moisture is short to adequate. No rainfall was received this week. Range and pasture condition is poor to good. Cotton is in poor to excellent condition. Some cotton farmers in Howard County are seeing exceptional yields. Oats are in fair condition. Temperatures are mild with warm days and cool nights. Wheat planting continues, but conditions are very dry.
WEST CENTRAL: Warm days and cool nights continued with no precipitation. Wildfires are becoming a threat. Field preparation and small-grain planting continues. Wheat crops need moisture for good growth. Some early planted fields are being grazed. Cotton harvest continues with very good yields. Range and pastures are steadily declining. Hay use has picked up, and hay sales have begun to increase. Livestock remain in fair to good condition. The pecan harvest continues with producers reporting good yields.
CENTRAL: No report available.
SOUTH: Weather conditions in the mid-region are dry. Sugarcane and citrus are still being harvested. Vegetable harvest has begun. Producers began irrigating spinach, cabbage, carrots and other cool-season vegetables. A cold front brought a few showers to other parts of the region, which helped with soil conditions. Winter vegetables are progressing well. Dryland wheat and oat producers are still ho ping for some rainfall. Although some forage is available for livestock, some producers reported initiating supplemental feeding.
SOUTHEAST: Extremely dry conditions have slowed emergence of winter annuals. Planting activity is moving forward, and wheat looks good. Hay baling continued this week but is now winding down. There were no reports of insects and disease in the wheat. Livestock are doing well.
SOUTHWEST: The region remains very dry with less than one-third of an inch of rain in the past two months. The region missed the typical fall rainy season, and weather forecasts are not optimistic. The region is going into the winter season at less than half of the long-term August-to-date rainfall. Soils are cracking. Pastures, ranges and yard grasses are going into winter dormancy early even with very mild fall temperatures. Some heavy irrigation has begun. The cotton harvest continues. The peanut, cabbages, spinach, green bean and pickling cucumber harvest continues.
COASTAL BEND: Temperatures are cooler, but the region continues to need rain in most areas. No rain and above-normal temperatures have been reported in San Patricio County, resulting in dried soil and lack of winter forage. Karnes County reports no rain, dry and cooler weather. Nueces County reports primary tillage is still going on in some of the late harvested cotton fields. Cattle remain in good condition. No significant rainfall has been reported for more than six weeks. No winter pasture has been planted in the past two weeks. Matagorda County reported low humidity and lack of rain. In Victoria County, 2 to 4 inches of rain is needed to return to near normal conditions. Field work is being completed.