January cumulative moisture totals were below normal for most of Texas, according to the National Weather Service.
Nearly all counties east of a line from Amarillo through Big Spring and on south through San Angelo and Del Rio saw at least 1inch less of rain than would be expected for January, according to the weather service. And as one travels farther east, the shortfall generally increased to 2 -3 inches below normal.
The more western counties saw normal moisture to a half inch more than normal, according to the weather service. However, winds and other factors can influence reserve moisture, reported Texas AgriLife Extension Service agriculture and natural resource agents from the far west Texas, and many noted dry conditions in their counties as well.
"All Floyd County cotton fields are extremely dry at this time and a really good rain is needed," said J. D. Ragland, AgriLife Extension agent in Floyd County. "Dryland wheat fields are suffering due to lack of moisture. Once again, a really good rain is needed here."
"Due to bitter cold and continued dry conditions the outlook for dryland winter wheat is beginning to look more and more bleak," said Benji Henderson, AgriLife Extension agent in Parmer County.
"We definitely need rain in the near future," said Kyle Kight, AgriLife Extension agent in Crosby County. "We are depleting what underground moisture we did have with cutting stalks and re-listing field operations. Ginning is still in full force with March being the expected finish time line."
The following condition reports are from AgriLife Extension agents throughout the state:
CENTRAL: Small grains continued to suffer from lack of moisture, along with greenbug pressure in some areas. Producers were supplying supplemental feed and hay. Some stocker operators continued to ship cattle to feedlots due to the lack of winter grazing.
COASTAL BEND: Some rain was received with below normal temperatures. Field conditions remained wet, causing producers to postpone fertilizer applications. Cattlemen were busy feeding hay and tending to cattle needs as livestock were stressed by the cold and wet conditions.
EAST: Most counties received some rain when cold fronts moved through. Nighttime temperatures were in the upper 20s to low 30s, and daytime temperatures were in the 40s and 50s. Winter pastures ranged from being nearly non-existent to behind normal. Heavy supplemental feeding of livestock continued with reserves rapidly decreasing. Winter weather and poorer-than-normal hay quality affected beef cattle. Feed and fertilizer prices increased. Calving continued. Nacogdoches County reported feral hog damage and beaver activity on some lakes and farm ponds. Cold temperatures contributed to good chilling-hour accumulations for fruit growers.
NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from adequate to short. Weather conditions were cold, with some freezing mornings but warm afternoons. Crop conditions remain about the same with moisture needed. The lack of rainfall and cold temperatures continued to have a detrimental effect on winter small grains and pastures. Farmers were burning off field residue. Producers began preparing some seedbeds for spring. The pecan harvest was nearly complete. Wheat was 100 percent emerged and in good to fair condition. Cattle were in good shape because the winter has been mild so far. Livestock supplementation continued, however, as many producers reported their cows were consuming large amounts of hay. Not many winter pastures are available, but there is an abundant supply of hay. Range and pastures remained in fair condition.
ROLLING PLAINS: Dry conditions continued. Supplemental feeding was in full swing as colder temperatures arrived. The cotton harvest was nearly complete, with good yields and quality reported. Producers were preparing land for spring planting. Wheat and oat fields were weak from lack of moisture. Wheat farmers sprayed for greenbugs. Grazing for stocker cattle was limited. Cattle were in fair condition. The risk of wild fire remained high.
SOUTH: Soil moisture remained short to very short. Cabbage and spinach harvesting resumed. Carrots, cabbage and onions were still under irrigation. Producers were supplying supplemental feed to livestock because of poor quality grazing. Land preparation for spring planting continued in the mid parts of the region.
SOUTH PLAINS: The cold temperatures earlier in the week moderated to more spring-like weekend conditions. Producers were shredding stalks and listing seed beds. Winter wheat was in poor to fair condition. Dryland wheat fields were suffering from lack of moisture. Irrigated fields were in slightly better condition. However, a weak root system is causing many grazed fields to be easily pulled up by grazing cattle. Pastures and ranges were in poor to fair condition. Cattle were in good condition and supplemental feeding continues.
SOUTHEAST: Cold, overcast conditions hindered growth of winter pastures. Some parts of the region received more than 2 inches of rain. Wet and cold conditions prevailed. Row crop fields had standing water and saturated soils. Hay feeding was on the increase. Hay reserves were dwindling but still good. Wheat was not looking as good as it might because of the wet weather. Some wheat stands yellowed but did not die. Land preparation for spring planting was delayed by the wet weather. Livestock faired well in spite of the cold and wet weather.
SOUTHWEST: The region remains very dry; subsoil moisture was very low. The last four-month period has been the third driest period on record. A light drizzle over the weekend helped settle dust and reduce the risk of roadside wildfires. The region will need above average early spring rain to sustain crops planted under dryland conditions. Farmers were heavily irrigating. The cabbage and spinach harvest continued. Forage availability is below average. Ranchers are providing heavy supplemental nutrition.
WEST CENTRAL: Cold temperatures continued with icy conditions in some areas. Small amounts of moisture were reported in a few areas. Cotton production continued with good yields. Crops and pastures continued to decline from lack of moisture. Supplemental feeding of livestock continued to increase. Cold wet conditions have many producers providing extra protein to livestock stressed by cold. Lambing season was well under way with good percentages.