The recent rains have provided much-needed moisture and improved planting conditions throughout most of the state.
According to Texas AgriLife Extension reports, corn planting is nearing completion in Central Texas and is currently in “full swing” in North Texas thanks to finally receiving adequate rain to moisten the soil. Improved soil conditions have also sped up cotton and soybean planting in the Coastal Bend area.
While rains helped in most regions, the Panhandle is still experiencing short to very short soil moisture and is still in danger from wildfire, the reports noted. Although the Rolling Plains received rainfall throughout most of that region, the results did not last long in the wake of 90-plus degree daytime temperatures. Additionally, a combination of wind and dry soil conditions has continued to harm dryland crops in South Texas.
Warm-season forages in some parts of the state are showing signs of greening up and livestock condition is generally fair to good statewide, but supplemental feeding continues in most areas.
In the Panhandle, South and South Plains regions, native range and pastures are responding slowly due to the excessive windy and dry conditions, and livestock producers are concerned about forage availability.
Forage availability is also a concern for wildlife, particularly in South Texas where several wildfires have occurred over the past three weeks, said Dr. Jim Gallagher, AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist. Gallagher, who works at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Uvalde, said it may take several months before burned areas have adequately recovered to support wildlife.
“With good growing conditions, the smaller burns will provide good foraging areas for wildlife later this year,” Gallagher said. “But even ... the largest burns are going to be a big challenge for wildlife. Without adequate food and shelter, survival and reproduction will be reduced. And for ranchers dependent on income from livestock and wildlife, this could be a tough situation.”
The following is a compilation of AgriLife Extension reports from around the state:
CENTRAL: The weather has been mild but windy and has allowed for some planting. Pastures are beginning to green up and cattle are gaining weight. Corn growers are completing planting and are also putting on first or second applications of herbicide for weed control.
COASTAL BEND: Warm, dry and windy weather prevailed. Lack of moisture has farmers anxious about the future. In the southern part of the reporting area, farmers are planting dry in most instances, with spring crops going into the ground with the hope of rainfall in the near future. Vegetation is short, and ranchers are extending supplemental feeding. Poor sorghum stands have been plowed out, and cotton farmers are waiting to plant. In the northern part of the region, conditions continue to be good for planting. Cotton and soybean planting is picking up, and some pasture fertilizing is taking place. Livestock are in good condition.
EAST: Conditions were warm and sunny with scattered showers reported in some areas. There is excellent growth of ryegrass and clovers. Warm-season forages have been starting to green up. Planting of permanent pastures continues, and cattle are in good-to-fair body condition. Spring calving is under way, and many producers are still feeding hay to cattle. However, the cattle are now choosing green grass and consuming less hay. Vegetable gardens are being planted. Mole crickets damaged lawns in Newton County. Peach, plum and pear trees were in full bloom on many early varieties. There were reports of forest tent caterpillars on trees. Nacogdoches County reported several calls concerning feral hog damage to pastures.
NORTH: Soil moisture was adequate to surplus though the weather has been generally warm and windy. Wheat is looking good, and planting is in full swing following a long wet spell. Pastures are looking much better. Peach trees are in bloom, and strawberries are getting ready to bloom. Feral hogs continue to be a problem, and insect and fly populations are on the increase. Livestock are in fair to good condition.
PANHANDLE: Soil moisture is rated very short to short with most areas reporting very short. Wheat is rated very poor to poor. Range condition is rated very poor to fair with most areas reporting poor. Fire danger remains high. Cattle are in fair condition, and supplemental feeding continues.
ROLLING PLAINS: Even though the majority of the area received some moisture last week, it didn’t take long for conditions to dry out. Temperatures reached the lower 90s during the day and dropped into the 50s at night. Pastures are trying to green up, but without any measurable moisture it’s a slow process. Grasses still need spring rains to grow, and tree and brush buds are beginning to swell. Small grass fires still appeared throughout the district because of dryness. Ranchers continued to feed supplement hoping for rain in the near future to replenish pastures. Cattle condition is generally good. Stock tanks are full due to recent rains. Farmers are preparing fields by cutting stalks and listing. They are considering putting out fertilizer, but high prices are making them conservative about its use.
SOUTH: Weather conditions throughout the region were mild with no precipitation and strong winds. The wind, combined with dry soils, have continued to harm dryland crops. Short to very short soil moisture conditions are still being reported. Some scattered, light drizzle was reported late in the week in the western parts of the region, but there was little benefit from it. Producers irrigated corn, cabbage, sorghum, wheat and oat fields. Mid-region sugar cane harvesting has concluded with many producers reporting low yields. Vegetables and citrus crops are still being harvested. Native range and pastures are responding very slowly due to the excessive windy and dry conditions. Livestock producers are concerned about the availability of spring forage and are having to provide supplemental feed to livestock.
SOUTH PLAINS: The region had spring-like weather that was mostly warm and windy. There was little to no rain, so soil moisture continued to be short to very short. Field preparation was in full swing and pre-watering is under way on irrigated acres preparing for the upcoming planting season. Winter wheat is poor to fair and dryland wheat is suffering due to extreme dry conditions. Irrigated wheat is in fair condition. Pastures and ranges are in poor condition, while livestock are in fair-to-good condition with supplemental feeding continuing.
SOUTHEAST: Dry weather has allowed most farmers to plant a fairly large percentage of their rice crop and some of their grain sorghum crop. Some forage producers have fertilized some pastures. Crawfish farms have been having trouble keeping up with demand. Livestock are doing well.
SOUTHWEST: Weekend thunderstorms caused some hail and rain in the southern edge of the region, but March ended with only about six-tenths of an inch of rain, compared to a long-term average of 1.35 inches. Farmers continued to irrigate heavily, and the soil profile remained very dry. Forage availability is below average, and ranchers are providing heavy supplemental nutrition. Corn, sorghum and vegetables are making good progress under irrigation. Planting under dryland conditions has been delayed, except in some South Central Texas counties. Production of small grains is expected to be down significantly from last year. The cabbage and spinach harvest continued. Onions, potatoes and carrots are making good progress under heavy irrigation, and cotton planting is under way. Some cantaloupes and watermelons were being planted.
WEST CENTRAL: Temperatures remained warm with windy conditions and cool nights. Thunderstorms and rainfall brought relief to many areas, but the fire hazard remained high. Cotton production continued with many record yields. Some cotton producers were applying yellow herbicide for spring weed control. Many producers tried to prepare beds for the next cotton season, but there was not enough moisture. Wheat crops improved, as did the outlook for small grains. Conditions for range and pastures improved and summer grasses are starting to show. Livestock supplemental feeding continues. Sheep are being sheared, and lambs are being worked. Fruit trees are in full bloom, and pecan tree buds are starting to swell.