With ground temperatures rising and recent rain, Texas Cooperative Extension professionals in the Rolling Plains described the outlook for this year's wheat as positive.
Extension regional offices reported the following conditions for the past week:
ROLLING PLAINS: The region received from 0.8 to 4 inches of rain. Wheat began to grow. Spring grass planting and sprigging has begun, and Sudan planting will begin soon. Grasses are beginning to break dormancy, and with the good moisture and warm weather, pastures should recover quickly. Livestock work is in full process. Livestock are in fair to good condition, and supplemental feeding is decreasing. Untreated lice infestations on cattle were major to severe in many herds. Peaches are just past full bloom. Pecan trees are budding out.
PANHANDLE: Some rain fell late in the week and through the weekend; most areas received 2 to 3 inches. Soil moisture in most areas is rated very short to adequate. Wheat is rated fair to good. Rain will benefit wheat in northern areas of the region. Range conditions are rated mostly fair. Warm temperatures and good moisture allowed some rangeland to begin turning green. Rains also helped decrease fire danger. Cattle are in fair to good condition. Supplemental feeding continues.
SOUTH PLAINS: Temperatures reached highs in the upper 70s F early in the week and cooled toward the end of the week. Heavy rains over the weekend ranged from 0.3 inch to more than 3 inches. Several low-energy funnel clouds were spotted in Lubbock and Yoakum counties. Soil moisture is adequate. Very little irrigation will be required prior to planting the spring crops. Preparation for spring planting is on hold until the fields dry out. Winter wheat is in fair to good condition and is growing rapidly due to warmer temperatures and rainfall. Pastures and ranges are in fair to good condition. Cattle are in good condition.
NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from short to adequate. Dry conditions persisted throughout the region; rainfall is needed. Effects of the drought on summer grasses are undetermined. Most of the recently planted row crops are not up to stand. Corn planting is about 30 percent emerged. Soybeans and sorghum planting began in some areas. Winter wheat condition looks very good for now; however some areas reported greenbugs, beetles and aphids. Peach trees are good with no insects reported. Most winter and spring pastures are in fair to poor condition. High winds and warmer temperatures dried out some surface moisture. Pastures improved after the last rain, but conditions remain generally dry. Some bermudagrass pastures began to green up. Winter feeding is ending. Ryegrass pastures for livestock are very good.
EAST: Winter pastures are in good condition. Producers began sprigging coastal bermudagrass and preparing for seed planting. Vegetable growers have been preparing land and planting corn, tomatoes, squash, beans and row cover watermelons. Daytime temperatures were in the upper 70s F; nighttime temperatures also were warmer. Soil moisture was reported as adequate. Lake and pond levels were good to excellent. Rain last week measured 0.2 to 0.6 inch. The warmer temperatures stimulated pasture growth and improved conditions for gardens. May beetles have been identified and other insect problems are expected. Cool-season forages have provided relief for limited hay supplies. Fertilizer prices have increased to $10 per ton and are expected to go up another $10 on this week. Spring calving is in progress. Cattle are in fair to good body condition. Producers continue to feed hay and supplement energy and protein. Cattle prices are up.
FAR WEST: Soil moisture ranges were very short to adequate. Range and pastures were in very poor to good conditions. Alfalfa is out of dormancy and the growth rate is good. Winter wheat is in very poor to good condition. Cotton ground preparation continued. Pecan trees are still dormant. Scattered precipitation from 0.3 to 2.5 inches was reported. Mild temperatures and strong winds were reported across the district. A burn ban is now in place in Ward County.
WEST CENTRAL: Warmer temperatures and very windy conditions were reported. Rain was reported in many areas, and soil moisture has improved. Burn bans have been lifted. Wheat pastures have improved. Some spring plowing and fertilizer applications began. Most hay fields are being prepared for planting. Producers are bailing small grain fields or grazing livestock. Range and pasture conditions continue to improve. Native and improved pastures have begun to green up. Livestock are in fair condition. Supplemental feeding continues. Stock tanks remain dry. Trees are leafing out, and some warm season grasses are beginning to emerge from dormancy. Fruit trees are in full bloom.
CENTRAL: Limited precipitation was received. Winter weeds and grasses and small grains are providing good forage for wildlife and livestock. Corn is emerging. Producers are planting grain sorghum. Wheat is showing potential for rust outbreak. Fruit trees are blooming.
SOUTHEAST: Daytime temperatures were cool with warm spring-like weather at night. Some ground was broken for spring planting, but intermittent showers slowed progress. No crop diseases or insects were reported. Livestock are doing well.
SOUTHWEST: After 40 days without rain, the region has received about 1.3 inches of rain since March 11, with more rain forecasted. The rain and mild temperatures caused the region to green up. Bluebonnets and woody species are blooming. Wheat and oats are progressing. Corn, sorghum and potatoes plant stands are reported as good. Cotton planting progressed. But even with recent rain, the soil profile remains very dry. Cabbage and spinach harvests continues.
COASTAL BEND: Farmers continued to plant and reported good stands; however, recent rains left some areas too wet to plant. Spring green up arrived, and pastures and rangeland are in excellent condition. Warmer soil temperatures have allowed warm-season pastures to grow faster. Supplemental feeding of livestock is limited. Livestock are in good condition.
SOUTH: Soil moisture conditions were adequate. Dry and windy conditions caused the top soil moisture in some areas to dry out quickly. Dryland sorghum progressed well from recent rainfall; however, more rain is needed. Cotton, corn and sorghum planting continued. Cabbage, sugarcane, citrus and vegetable harvesting continued in some areas. Some growers have harvested onions. Watermelon and other spring planting began. Row crops in some areas are completely planted for the spring. Range and pasture conditions have continued to improve, and spring forage production has reached its peak. Some livestock producers reported a drop in supplemental feeding. Livestock body conditions have improved with the availability of much-needed grazing.