Lack of rain and windy conditions continued to dry out Texas topsoils this last week, reported Texas AgriLife Extension Service agents throughout the state.
Except where irrigation was available, winter wheat suffered. The high winds raised the risk of wildfires on dried out pastures and roadsides.
"Livestock producers are feeding supplements daily and hoping for some moisture to help what winter wheat there still is," said Ryan Martin, AgriLife Extension agent in Motley County, northeast of Lubbock. "Ranchers have had to postpone brandings due to the dry conditions in fear of starting a pasture fire."
"Wilbarger County lost an estimated 1,000 acres to an (escaped) controlled burn the first part of week," said Langdon Reagan, AgriLife Extension agent at Vernon in Wilbarger County."The producer could be facing a fine due to the burn ban."
"It is extremely dry; we have had high winds and wildfires around the county, burning approximately 11,000 acres," said Greg Gruben, AgriLife Extension agent at Snyder in Scurry County. "We need rain desperately bad in all aspects of agriculture."
The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension Districts reporters this week:
CENTRAL: Dry conditions persisted, with pastures showing little or no growth. Corn planting began. Development of the wheat crop has been retarded by dry conditions. Most producers continued to supply supplemental feed to livestock.
COASTAL BEND: The southern part of the region continued to suffer from lack of rain. Persistent winds contributed to further drying out the topsoil. Many producers are waiting for moisture to plant crops. Where there was rain, sunny skies favored rye grasses and clover growth. Livestock producers continued to supply supplemental feed.
EAST: Rain improved ryegrass and clover stands which allowed some grazing. Hay supplies remained adequate, but a large carryover is not anticipated. Because of the high cost of fertilizer, many producers do not plan to fertilize in the spring. As a result, some producers were beginning to cull herds and decrease stocking rates. Most cattle were in fair to good condition.
FAR WEST: High winds and no precipitation contributed to wildfires that burned several thousand acres. Livestock were heavily supplemented as pastures continued to deteriorate from lack of moisture. Onions were planted and emerged. Winter wheat was in poor condition. Alfalfa came out of dormancy. Western and Wichita pecan varieties remained dormant, while Pawnee pecans have already budded. Cotton and chile crop land was being prepared for planting. Oats were in fair condition.
PANHANDLE: Soil moisture varied from adequate to very short, with most counties reporting short to very short. Condition of wheat crop varied from good to very poor. Irrigated wheat was in good condition, but dryland wheat continued to decline. Rangeland conditions varied from excellent to very poor, with most areas reporting poor. The wildfire danger remained high. Condition of cattle declined from lack of grazing. Lice were reported in many herds. Livestock producers continued to supply supplemental feed.
ROLLING PLAINS: Conditions remained dry, and the district remained under a burn ban. Several counties have reported limited rain. Though thunderstorms and heavy rain came to some parts of the district, overall totals were only a few tenths of an inch. Producers continued to provide supplemental feed to livestock. Some producers began field work preparation to plant cotton. Most winter wheat is lost from lack of moisture. Ranchers have had to postpone branding cattle, fearing they might start a pasture fire. Producers are wondering what to do about fertilizing since they expect prices to be extremely high.
SOUTH: Extremely short soil moisture conditions persisted throughout the region. Wheat and oat fields were on the verge of being totally lost. In the mid-region, producers have been actively planting grain sorghum, corn and cotton, and harvesting sugarcane, citrus and vegetables. Sorghum planting has been limited because of dry soils. Spinach and cabbage harvesting was also active. Onions progressed well under irrigation.
SOUTH PLAINS: Soil moisture remained short to very short. Warm, dry, windy conditions raised wildfire danger; fires were reported in Garza and Scurry counties. Producers continued with land preparation and herbicide applications. Some preplant irrigation began. Dryland winter wheat fields remained in poor condition. Ranges and pastures were also in poor condition. Livestock producers continued to supply supplemental feed.
SOUTHEAST: Winter annuals showed good growth. Warmer weather was the rule with a few isolated showers. Producers in some counties planted corn and sorghum; other areas were too wet and the soil temperature too cold. Most of the wheat continued to look good except for a little disease. Volunteer clover is doing fairly well.
SOUTHWEST: Parts of the region received light rain, which helped settled the dust, but most of the region remained very dry. Less than 1.2 inches of rain has been recorded since Oct. 1. Dry weather, 25-30 mph winds – with gusts of more than 40 mph – and abundant dry forage in some fields and roadways increased wildfire risk. Farmers continued to heavily irrigate. Forage availability was below average, and ranchers had to provide large amounts of supplemental feed. Some corn was being planted under irrigation, but farmers under dryland conditions are waiting for rain. Small grains planted under dryland conditions were abandoned. The cabbage and spinach harvest continued. Onions, carrots and early potatoes made good progress under heavy irrigation and warm weather.
WEST CENTRAL: Extremely dry conditions with low humidity continued. High winds fanned grass fires that damaged structures and destroyed livestock and many acres. Wildfire threats continued. Wheat and small grain crops were in poor condition with limited growth. Range and pastures were also in very poor condition, with little growth shown by winter grasses and forbs. Heavy supplemental feeding of livestock continued.