Rangeland conditions across the central portion of the state have turned around, according to a Texas Cooperative Extension range specialist.
Dr. Allan McGinty of San Angelo said warm temperatures coupled with above-average rainfall have stimulated significant plant growth within pastures resulting in excellent and improving forage quality and quantity for many Texas ranchers.
The following are Extension district reports for the week:
PANHANDLE: Temperatures were above average early last week before returning to normal by week's end. Soil temperatures from 2 to 6 inches deep are in the lower 50s F. Much of the area received rain from a trace to over an inch. Soil moisture is adequate to surplus for most of the area. Corn planting will start soon.Wheat fields are making excellent growth, though some isolated hail damage has been reported. Range conditions are improving with the recent rain and warm temperatures, but supplemental feeding continues.
SOUTH PLAINS: More rain fell last week in the half- to 6-inch range with some areas getting pea- to marble-sized hail. Field work has stopped until the soil dries out. Winter wheat is in good condition and continues to grow rapidly. Cattle conditions are good with no supplemental feeding reported.
ROLLING PLAINS: Some much-needed rainfall fell throughout the region last week, giving the wheat crop enough moisture to last through grain fill. Insect pressure is still low. Pastures are greening up. Trees are blooming and leafing out, including mesquite. Land preparation for cotton and grain sorghum continues. Some producers are beginning to buy replacement cows. Despite the rain, stock tanks are still in need of some runoff.
NORTH: Some areas received rain and stock ponds are filling. Warm spring weather with moisture is providing ideal growing conditions for cool season forages, spring-planted crops and gardens. Corn is planted and many fields are up and in good condition. The rains received were a boon for corn emergence and wheat growth. Sorghum and soybean planting will begin this month but some areas are already 25 percent planted. Ryegrass pastures are doing well, allowing some cattle producers to reduce hay feeding. Some May beetles and tent caterpillars were reported.
EAST: Vegetable growers are preparing land and planting watermelons, tomatoes and squash. Crops are looking good, though cattle feeding continues. Recent heavy rainfall has filled ponds and lakes to capacity. Some bermudagrass has been planted. Henderson County received about 3 inches of rain; some wind damage was reported in Marion County. Pastures are green with ryegrass, clovers and some warm-season forages emerging. High fertilizer prices may trigger a decline in this year's forage production.
FAR WEST: Soil moisture ranges from very short to adequate across most of the region, except for Crockett, Reagan and Val Verde counties which received anywhere from a half to 6.5 inches of rain. Depending on rainfall, winter wheat and native ranges are in very poor to good condition. Hail was reported in Reeves and Loving counties, which damaged young alfalfa.
WEST CENTRAL: Most counties reported good rainfall last week, which caused field activities to halt due to wet conditions. Wheat is making good growth. Some hay fields are emerging; others will be sown as fields dry. Many improved pastures are being fertilized. Range and pastures are recovering from drought. Spring green-up is in full swing. Stock tanks have filled with runoff. Supplemental feeding of livestock continues. Pecan spraying is picking up as bud break occurs.
CENTRAL: Mass flooding was reported down the Brazos River last week; some farmers will have to replant. Wheat remains healthy with little disease reported. The rains have helped range and pasture conditions by increasing cattle forage.
SOUTHEAST: Winter annuals are flowering, ryegrass is headed and bermudagrass is starting to grow. Rainfall amounts last week were 2 to 3 inches. The rain will provide a good start for ranges and crops. Livestock are faring well. Some coyote-related calf deaths have been reported.
SOUTHWEST: March brought 1.9 inches of rain, about 30 percent above the long-term average. The rainfall was variable with up to 8 inches of concentrated rain from Medina to Guadalupe counties. March was the rainiest month on record in San Antonio. The region is green, but the soil profile remains very dry in a large portion of the southwestern counties. Corn, sorghum, wheat, oats, cabbage, onions, cucumbers (for pickling) and potatoes are making good progress. Wheat and oat plantings were down due to the dry fall and winter. Cotton planting continues. Spring forage has improved, but more rain is needed. Cabbage and spinach harvests continue.
COASTAL BEND: Rainfall and high winds with blowing sand occurred last week. Excessive moisture caused planting to be delayed. Ranches are in good shape; producers are restocking with replacement females as green grass is plentiful.
SOUTH: Soil moisture conditions vary throughout the region. Dryland wheat and oats, benefitted from scattered showers last week. Crops in Cameron County are progressing well. In Hidalgo County, onion harvest is under way, as are sugarcane, vegetables and citrus harvests. Starr County's onion harvest is under way, and row crops are progressing well. Improving green forage for livestock will help eliminate some supplemental feeding by next week.