For the most part, Texas has been cool and dry, which is good news for those stripping cotton; not so good news for those trying to grow winter wheat or graze cattle, reported Texas Cooperative Extension agents.
With the exception of North Texas, which received some rain, the narrative filed by Ryan Martin, Extension agent in Motley County, is typical of reports coming in from counties that have cotton, wheat and cattle.
"Cotton producers are sure loving the weather at this time," Martin said. "Cool sunny days have been the norm for the past two weeks as producers have stepped up cotton harvest. This year's crop may be one for the books as yields are averaging around a bale to the acre. On the other hand, livestock producers are wondering what to do. With the lack of any moisture, pastures are beginning to play out. Winter wheat that was planted on enough moisture to come up either dried out or got blown out by the harsh winds. At this time there isn't an acre of wheat left in the county."
The following summaries were compiled from Extension agent reports from across Texas:
Panhandle: Soil moisture ranged from very short to surplus with most areas reporting short. The corn harvest was almost complete. Cotton ranged from very poor to excellent, with most areas reporting good. The peanut harvest was ongoing, with the crop rated fair to excellent, with most areas reporting good. The harvesting of sorghum and sunflowers continued. Wheat ranged from very poor to excellent, with most areas reporting good. Most counties reported soil moisture as being low. Range conditions were rated very poor to excellent, with most areas reporting fair. Cattle were in good condition.
South Plains: The weather remained warm and open this week, allowing for crop harvests to continue. The cotton harvest was in full swing, with gins are running at full capacity. Cotton yields continued to be higher than expected. The grain sorghum harvest continued as the peanut harvest wound down. Winter wheat was in fair to good condition but in need of moisture. Pastures and ranges were in fair to good condition and also in need of moisture. Cattle conditions were mostly good with limited supplemental feeding.
Rolling Plains: Cool, sunny days have allowed producers to step up cotton harvesting. Yield this year may be record-setting. With the lack of any moisture, pastures conditions are deteriorating. Winter wheat seedlings in many counties have been lost from either drying out or being blown out by wind. Water levels in cattle tanks dropped with many tanks nearly dry. Producers shipped calves out of the region. Expecting a dry winter, ranchers are beginning to stockpile hay in order to keep cattle fed.
North: Soil moisture was very short to adequate. Recent rains left pastures and forage crops in good condition. The winter wheat crop was in fair to good condition, with 40 percent to 100 percent of the crop planted and 10 percent to 50 percent of existing plantings emerged. Cotton was in fair to good condition with 90 percent to 100 percent of bolls open and 50 percent to 100 percent of the crop harvested. Oats were being planted. The pecan harvest was ongoing, with good yields of pecans reported. The corn and sorghum harvests were completed. Livestock were in good condition.
East: Dry conditions prevailed. Warm-season grasses were growing slowly because of cooler night temperatures. The hay harvest continued. Low soil moisture has stopped planting of winter forages in many counties. Cattle remained in good condition and market prices remained steady overall. Producers were weaning and working cattle. Some producers in Panola County were selling and/or moving cattle because of low stock pond levels. The pecan harvest began in Henderson County with good yields reported. Nacogdoches County Extension agents received numerous reports of bees around homes, businesses, schools, and nursing homes. Feral hogs continued to be a growing problem in Trinity County.
Far West: Topsoil moisture was very short to adequate. Range and pastures were in very poor to excellent condition. Cotton was in very poor to excellent condition. Peanuts were in poor to excellent condition. Winter wheat was in very poor to good condition. Oats were in fair condition. Frost was reported in elevations above 4,000 feet. Fall onions emerged, with good stands. The cotton harvest was in full swing. Alfalfa began to go dormant. Red chilis were being harvested, and the shrimp harvest was completed.
West Central: Warm dry days and cool nights continued. Most areas needed rainfall. Soil moisture continued to decline. A burn ban was put into effect in some areas. Some field preparation for small grain planting continued. The hay harvest continued. Cotton production was under way with very good yields. Wheat was in poor condition from lack of moisture and insect problems. Small grains failed to emerge because of lack of moisture. Range and pastures were beginning to decline from lack of rain. Livestock remained in fair to good condition in most counties. Market prices were somewhat down. The pecan harvest began.
Central: Low soil moisture became a serious issue. Oats and wheat suffered. Growers prepared corn ground following this year's extended harvest. In some counties, producers began supplementally feeding cattle. The pecan harvest continued. Sheep and goat producers continued to fight the worm infestations as breeding season went into full swing.
Southeast: Producers began planting winter annuals. Soil moisture conditions remained short, but temperatures were mild, giving some relief to dry conditions. The ratoon rice crop harvest was in progress. The soybean harvest was all but complete. Wheat was being planted and hay baled. Livestock were reported as doing well.
Southwest: The region was very dry with less than one-third of an inch of rain in 62 days. The area missed the typical fall rainy season, and weather forecasts were not very optimistic for relief any time soon. Soils were so dry as to begin cracking. Pastures, ranges and yard grasses began to turn brown and go into early winter dormancy. Farmers were heavily irrigating fall crops. The cotton harvest continued to be behind schedule. The peanut, cabbages, spinach, green bean and pickling cucumber harvests continued. The pecan harvest was nearly complete.
Coastal Bend: Continued dry weather resulted in a steady decline in the quality of range and pastures. Deep tillage and stalk destruction continued on late-harvested cotton fields. Livestock were in good condition with weaning and shipping of calves very active.
South: Harvesting of citrus and sugarcane continued in the mid parts of the region. All fall vegetable crops progressed well. Dry weather conditions in the western parts of the region halted dryland planting of wheat. Planting of spinach, onion and other greens was completed. The severe lack of moisture in this part of the region was not conducive to cool-season forage production. At this time, though, the abundant dry warm-season forage is still available and of reasonable quality. If no rains come soon, producers will have to start feeding their cattle protein supplements.