Texas AgriLife Extension Service agents from across the state report that whether there was rain or no rain, the high price of nitrogen fertilizer and diesel fuel are a dark cloud on the horizon for many producers.
Many AgriLife Extension districts received rain, while others still suffered from dry and windy conditions.
The Coastal Bend ,Far West, Southwest, South Plains and South districts saw little to no rain, endangering dryland crops, forcing row-crop producers to irrigate heavily and livestock producers to continue to provide supplemental feed to cattle.
“Grass is growing, calving continues and cattle working is in progress,” said Mark Currie, AgriLife Extension agent in Polk County northwest of Beaumont. “But producers are voicing much concern over costs of fertilizer, feed and fuel in relation to declining calf prices.”
“Conditions continue to improve thanks to recent rains and cool temperatures, said Jason Byrd, AgriLife Extension agent in Lampasas County northwest of Austin. “Many producers are struggling with fertilizer prices and availability.”
“This week’s rain has helped cotton farmers in preparation for this year’s crop,” said Ryan Martin, AgriLife Extension agent in Motley County, northeast of Lubbock. “Some producers have opted not to fertilize due to high fuel and fertilizer costs.”
“We are getting rain,” said Clint Perkins, AgriLife Extension agent in Wood County north of Tyler. “Warm-season grasses are starting to green up, but high fertilizer prices have producers worried.”
The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension districts reporters this week:
CENTRAL: Most of the district received rain. Pasture conditions improved and rapidly greened up. Some wheat rust was reported. Also, some wheat and oat crops were pressured by stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs.
COASTAL BEND: Lack of rainfall and warm weather allowed most row-crop farmers to plant. However, in some counties there wasn’t enough topsoil moisture to germinate crops. Soil insects in corn and grain sorghum coupled with high winds caused some stand loss. The high cost of fertilizer continued to concern row crop and grass farmers. Many cow-calf producers were choosing not to fertilize grazing pastures this year, and were only lightly fertilizing hay meadows. Cattle in some areas were still being supplemented due to short grass.
EAST: Thunderstorms brought up to 2 inches of rain. Pasture planting and vegetable planting was under way in much of the reporting area, but some fields remained too wet to plant. Cattle conditions were good to excellent, with less hay feeding as grass grows. Spring calving was under way. Sabine County received more than 20 inches of rain, which resulted in loss of livestock and fencing. In San Augustine County, also hit by heavy flooding last week, pastureland in bottoms were still under water and several dams were being rebuilt.
FAR WEST: Soil moisture was very short to adequate, with range and pastures ranging from very poor to excellent. Corn was in fair to good condition. Sorghum was in fair condition. Winter wheat was in very poor to good condition. Oats were in poor to good condition. Ector, Midland, Howard, Glasscock and Crockett counties reported a half-inch to 1 inch of rain. The weather has been very hot, dry and windy. High winds have caused electric lines to spark and create fires that burned approximately 2,000 acres in Ector County. Pecans and wine grapes were being watered, and cotton pre-plant was going strong. Alfalfa farmers were watering hard. Burn bans were still in effect in several counties in the region.
NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from adequate to surplus. Recent severe weather added moisture but slowed down ground preparations for spring planting. Some areas had 3 inches or more of rain and were under water. Producers were still trying to plant corn. Grain sorghum planting will begin soon, and some of the corn acreage may be planted to grain sorghum. Soybean and cotton planting was also under way. Winter annual pastures did well. Pastures were growing and looking all right but were far behind where they were a year ago. With the warmer days and abundant rainfall, Bermuda grass pastures began to green up. Many small-acreage farmers tried to establish new Bermuda pastures this year. Clovers and ryegrass pastures were growing well. Winter wheat was in fair condition, though stripe rust and leaf rust were increasing. All livestock were doing well with the abundance of green forage, and hay feeding ceased. Strawberries were ready for harvest.
SOUTH: Western parts of the region were still dry. Cabbage, corn, wheat and cotton under irrigation progressed well. Most dryland wheat and oats are likely to be a total loss this year. Onion harvesting continued. Range and pastures made little progress, and livestock producers continued to provide supplemental feed. The northern parts of the region reported small amounts of precipitation, and soil moisture was deemed sufficient at depths of 1, 2 and 3 feet. Overall, crops were doing well though temperatures were low for this time of year.
SOUTH PLAINS: From 0.3 to 1.8 inches of rain fell. However, high winds gusting from 46 to 50 miles per hour came the day after. Soil moisture was short to very short. Producers continued to pre-water, apply pre-emerge herbicides and prepare for planting of cotton. Winter wheat was in poor to fair condition. Irrigated wheat looked fair. The moisture that was received helped, but more is needed for good yields. Pastures and ranges were in poor to fair condition. Cattle were in fair to good condition with supplemental feeding continuing.
SOUTHEAST: The spring grasses were growing fast, and livestock were gaining weight. Winter annuals continued to mature and reseed. Bermuda grass and other warm-season grasses greened up, but there was little growth. Light showers came late in the week, improving soil moisture.
SOUTHWEST: The region has had no rain this month. The year-to-date cumulative rainfall at Uvalde is about 88 percent below the long-term average. Pecan and oak trees produced lots of pollen this spring, probably as a result of excellent rains in 2007 through mid-summer. Woody trees leafed out, but will not have sustained growth without rain. Forage availability remained below average. Ranchers provided heavy supplemental nutrition. The extremely dry soil required farmers to irrigate heavily or lose their crops. Corn, sorghum, spring vegetables and cotton were making good progress under irrigation. Planting under dryland conditions was significantly less than usual. Small grain production was predicted to be minimal and only where irrigation was possible. The cabbage and carrot harvest continued. Onions and potatoes made good progress under heavy irrigation, and the potato harvest will soon start. Cantaloupes and watermelons had good stands under heavy irrigation.
WEST CENTRAL: Temperatures continued to rise, with many counties getting rain. Soil moisture improved. Producers began to plant early sorghum and plow fields for cotton. Hay planting continued. Wheat and oat crops were beginning to head out. Fertilizer and herbicide applications were in full swing. Range and pastures showed improvement. Summer grasses and forbs began to green up as well. Supplemental feeding of livestock continued. Livestock body conditions were improving.