It will probably be the first of many deadline extensions in the coming days, but the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) has granted its first request of the year for an extension of the cotton stalk destruction deadline for a South Texas integrated pest management zone.
TDA officials issued a notice this week confirming that IPM Zone 2.2 has been granted a deadline extension until Sept. 15 after a formal request was filed with the department last week by the Chair of the Cotton Producer Advisory Committee (CPAC) for Pest Management Zone 2 Area 2. The zone consists of Jim Wells, Kleberg, Nueces, and the northern portion of Kenedy County, encompassing the area above an east-west line through Katherine and Armstrong, Texas.
Robert Crocker, PhD., a Plant Quality Program Specialist of Environmental & Biosecurity Programs, Agriculture & Consumer Protection, at the Texas Department of Agriculture, issued the extension Aug. 30, after determining conditions in the zone warrant the extension.
In a notice published this week, Crocker said the basis for the extension request included extensive wet conditions in the zone in recent weeks, excessively wet soils that have interrupted harvest operations and prevented farmers from accessing many fields, and an extended forecast that calls for additional rainfall in the days ahead.
"As reported by the CPAC, National Weather Service records confirm heavy rainfall in the area. The Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation (TBWEF) commented that the Foundation would support an extension of the stalk destruction date until September 15, 2016, for Zone 2.2 in the STWG area. This area has received substantial rain over the last two weeks, which has hindered harvest," Crocker noted in the letter of notification sent to CPAC officials in Zone 2.
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A surface low pressure system that entered the Gulf of Mexico last week and slowly moved down the Texas coast over the last several days brought intense rainfall to large areas of the middle and upper Texas coast. The tropical system, too close to shore to develop into a major tropical depression, first sent waves of thunderstorms into areas of the Upper Coast near the Texas-Louisiana border before moving south down the coast and blasting the Houston-Galveston area with intense storms.
HEAVY RAINS IN SOUTH TEXAS
Over the course of the last several days the system moved steadily south bringing heavy rains to Victoria, Port Lavaca, Rockport, and Corpus Christi. Heavy thunderstorms moved inland as well, spun off from the tropical system, which remained active on the coast mid-week and was bringing heavy showers to lower South Texas on Wednesday.
While Zone 2 received substantial rain, areas east of Victoria and up the Texas coast through the Upper Coastal Bend and into the Houston area were the hardest hit. Because cotton stalk destruction deadlines are later for these areas, no requests for extensions have been filed yet. But a random check indicates many more may be coming.
Corpus Christi National Weather Service officials report an area just north of Corpus Christi was hit hardest in the lower Coastal Bend. Rainfall amounts from 5 to 8 inches have fallen in the Rockport-Aransas Pass area over the last 14 days. Parts of Nueces County received slightly less for the same period. Inland parts of Nueces, Live Oak, Bee and Kleberg counties received varying amount ranging between 2 and 4 inches for the same period.
Harder hit, however, were areas east of Victoria where Port Lavaca recorded nearly 11 inches of rain over the last 14 days. Further north up the coast similar numbers were reported with isolated rainfall near 20 inches over the last 14 days reported near Lake Jackson and just north of Galveston.
According to the NWS in San Antonio, parts of Kenedy County received as much as 8 inches of rain and heavy rains were widespread between Live Oak County and San Antonio in recent days.
MORE EXTENSIONS EXPECTED
While Zone2.2 represents the first cotton stalk destruction deadline area of the year, other IPM areas are expected to experience rain-event delays as fields will require dry, sunny days before many farmers can gain access.
Rainfall has been so steady across some areas of the Upper Coastal Bend region, farmers in Wharton, Jackson, Matagorda and Fort Bend counties reported cotton bolls were sprouting last week. While some of these areas received some sunshine over the last week and some areas did dry slightly, these latest rounds of showers promise to make those types of problems even worse for some areas.
While rains associated with the surface low that caused flooding across many coastal areas since the weekend have passed, weather forecasts say the atmosphere remains unstable and are calling for additional rain showers to develop across parts of South and Southeast Texas in the days ahead.