Cold fronts across Texas continue to thwart growth of wheat and native pastures, according to Texas Cooperative Extension reports.
Agriculture producers are looking forward to warm weather, said Tony Douglas, North district director. Heavy feeding of livestock is in progress and producers are worried about running out of hay.
“Right now there seems to be a great need for sun and milder temperatures for winter pastures and livestock,” Douglas said. “We’ve had so many cold days and rainy days, we just need some sunshine.”
Rebecca Parker, Extension regional program director for agriculture and natural resources in East Region, said, “We’re needing some warm temperatures for the small grains and of course some more moisture.”
This year, because of the shortage of forage put up last year, a lot of those small grains will be used for a forage-base, as baled hay or pasture, Parker said.
Extension agriculture agents across the state said hay supplies are running low for many producers, who are hoping for an early Spring and green-up of crops and pastures.
The following are reports from Extension districts around the state:
PANHANDLE: Temperatures were above average before a mid-week cold front plunged them to zero. Two to three inches of snow fell across the area. Land preparation for spring planting is limited at this time. Soil moisture is rated mostly adequate to surplus. Cotton ginning continues to be active. Wheat is rated mostly fair to good with excellent moisture. Range conditions vary from very poor to excellent with most areas reporting fair. Cattle are in fair to good condition, but stressed by cold and wet conditions. Supplemental feeding continues.
SOUTH PLAINS: Soil moisture is adequate. The early part of the week had mild temperatures and wind, followed by a cold front that brought rain and snow. Two to three inches of snow fell; the temperatures dropped to 10 F. Field activities were hampered by the snowfall. Wheat is in fair to good condition. Pastures and ranges are in fair to good condition. Extreme cold caused stress to area livestock. Supplemental feeding continues.
ROLLING PLAINS: Cold temperatures returned to the area, lowering forage growth and increasing supplemental feeding. Lice infestation on cattle continued to affect weight gains and thriftiness. In some area, winter wheat has been grazed heavily due to poor range conditions. Hay is in short supply and the unpredictable weather has been hard on livestock. In other counties, ranges and pastures are in good condition and livestock are gaining well and are in good condition.
NORTH: Soil moisture is adequate, although conditions are still too wet for spring seed and bed preparation. Winter wheat is in good condition. Top dressing wheat and other winter pasture is under way. Temperatures have been very cold; therefore, little or no farming activity has taken place this week. The extended cold weather slowed pasture and crop growth slightly, and damaged some pastures. Heavy feeding of livestock is in progress and producers are concerned about enough hay to finish the winter. The price of hay is $125 a roll. Range and pasture conditions are fair. Winter pastures need more rainfall, along with sun and milder temperatures.
EAST: Humid, wet conditions caused some disease problems on wheat, as well as freeze damage in early-planted vegetables. Producers cannot top dress wheat because conditions are too wet. Ryegrass and clovers are growing well and should improve with warmer temperatures and sunshine. Cattle demand is strong, with prices on calves steady to $1.50 per hundredweight higher. Cattle are in good to fair condition. Lice are a problem in some herds. Winter pasture growth has slowed due to cold weather. Cattle supplementation continues, as does the calving season.
FAR WEST: Soil moisture ranges from very short to surplus, and crops and pastures are in very poor to good condition. Winter wheat varies from very poor to excellent conditions. Oats are in poor to good condition. No significant moisture reported.
WEST CENTRAL: Cold temperatures were back this week. Some areas reported small amounts of snow and rain. Soil moisture is improving. Some field preparation is under way for hay crops this spring. Most outside activities have slowed due to cold conditions. Cold winter weather has slowed most rangeland and pasture growth, but some winter grasses and forbs are starting to show. Supplemental feeding continues. Hay and feed are in very short supply. Stock tanks need water. Livestock are in fair condition.
CENTRAL: Very cold temperatures last week increased livestock producers’ need to keep up adequate supplemental feeding programs. Some rust and powdery mildew are showing up in wheat stands and may reduce yields.
SOUTHEAST: Cold overcast conditions stressed hay supplies and stopped winter annual growth. The ground is still wet and temperatures dropped to 25 F. Rain has fallen every week this winter, making conditions hard for ranchers, who are feeding hay because pastures are too wet to allow cattle to graze. Most ranchers were not expecting this much rainfall, so they did not set aside the hay they now need. That hay was sold to producers in drought conditions.
SOUTHWEST: Cool, open weather continues with good soil surface moisture conditions as a result of 2.63 inches of rainfall received since Jan. 1. The soil profile is still dry. Forage availability has improved and fields are ready for early corn, cotton and sorghum planting, but more rainfall is needed to sustain the agricultural production this spring. Potato planting is almost complete. The cabbage, spinach and carrot harvests continue. Good spinach quality and yields are reported.
SOUTH: Soil moisture conditions are short to adequate throughout most of the region. Pasture conditions are fair. Planting has been delayed in most of the area due to cooler-than-normal weather. Citrus, vegetables and sugarcane harvests are under way. Some producers are still preparing for spring planting, while others have already started planting grain sorghum.