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Dry fall weather promotes harvests

In much of Texas, mild fall weather allowed for the harvesting of cotton, sorghum and other crops, according to reports by Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel throughout the state.

It also allowed for producers in North Texas and other regions to over-seed winter pastures, a month late in some instances.

But for much of the state west of U.S. Interstate 35, lack of moisture was again becoming the main limiting factor.

"Livestock and pastures are in good shape, but we are beginning to get a little dry," said Ryan Martin, AgriLife Extension agent in Motley County , northeast of Lubbock. "It's been several weeks since we received a good rain, and some winter wheat is starting to show it."

"Strong winds caused soil conditions to dry," said Miles Dabovich, AgriLife Extension agent in Wichita County . "Winter wheat could use a shower, but cotton does not need any at this time."

"Wheat and oats are needing rainfall right now," said Brad Easterling, AgriLife Extension agent in Baylor County , west of Wichita Falls. "Fields are showing (symptoms of) stress from several different factors at this time."

"Strong winds have continued to dry wheat and grass throughout the county," said Adam Bonner, AgriLife Extension agent in Knox County, north of Abilene. "Wheat is starting to look blue in many places. Wheat farmers are hoping for a rain, and cotton farmers are enjoying the optimum weather for stripping cotton. Cotton has been averaging between one and three bales to the acre."

"It has been dry and mild this week, with temperatures forecast to be a lot cooler this weekend, and no moisture," said Greg Gruben, AgriLife Extension agent for Scurry County in Snyder. "It is very dry and the wheat needs a rain, however cotton farmers do not want rain. They are still waiting on a freeze to kill the rest of the cotton."

"Bell County continues to suffer from very dry conditions," said Dirk Aaron, AgriLife Extension agent located in Temple. "Cooler temperatures were present over the weekend with some areas receiving a mild frost."

The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters this week:

CENTRAL: Most counties received rain this past week that helped planting conditions and promoted the emergence of small grains. Cooler temperatures resulted in a light frost. The cotton harvest and ginning were nearly complete. Winter feeding programs were in full swing.

COASTAL BEND: As much as 2 inches of rain fell in some counties, which brought some drought relief. Producers were actively over-seeding ryegrass for winter pasture, but the grass should have been planted in mid-October, so grazing benefits will be delayed a month. Forage was becoming sparse, and livestock producers were feeding hay.

EAST: Most areas received rain that relieved some of the dry soil conditions that have slowed winter forage growth. Feral hogs continued to be active in many counties.

FAR WEST: The regional weather was windy and dry with no precipitation. Fall onions were planted and emerged. Pecan harvest began. Cotton and grain sorghum harvest were in full swing. The last cutting of alfalfa was baled. The harvest of red, dry chiles was ongoing. Wheat planting neared completion.

NORTH: Rain raised soil moisture to adequate levels, greened up small grains that were planted earlier, and helped late plantings germinate. In many counties, frost accompanied cooler conditions. Cattle were in good condition for this time of the year. Some producers began supplemental feeding; other livestock were doing well on the stockpiled forages. The pecan crop was short this year. Winter wheat was in fair condition, and planting neared completion. Oats were about 75 percent planted. The corn, soybeans and sorghum harvests were finished. The cotton harvest neared completion. Range and pasture conditions were fair to good.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures ranged from above normal to cooler than normal. Soil moisture varied from very short to surplus with most areas reporting adequate. The corn harvest was nearly completed. Cotton varied from very poor to good with most areas reporting fair to poor. A few fields of soybean were yet to be harvested. The sorghum harvest continued. Wheat varied from poor to excellent with most areas reporting fair to good. Range conditions varied from very poor to fair with most areas reporting fair. Cattle were in good condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: It's been several weeks since the region has received a good rain. The cotton harvest continued, but many producers won't begin harvesting until a freeze kills the crop. Harvest yields were variable. The sorghum crop was doing well. A small portion of the crop has been harvested and producers are very pleased with their yields. Some farmers said they will plant sorghum again next year instead of cotton – if sorghum prices remain high. Wheat and oats were showing stress from several factors, the least of which was lack of moisture. Diseases such as rust and wheat streak mosaic increased. Many producers were spraying for weeds and hoping they would not have to treat for greenbugs. Livestock and pastures were in good shape but were beginning to dry out.

SOUTH: Soil moisture conditions in most of the region remained very short, except in the south, where they were adequate. In the northern parts of the region, oat and wheat crops were newly planted. Those already planted were sprouting but not growing due to the lack of moisture. Peanut harvesting continued. Agents in the region's eastern counties reported wildfire risks were rising because of the extremely dry conditions. Light showers fell in the western counties, but there was not enough accumulation to make planting feasible. Producers there were waiting for more moisture before attempting to plant spring wheat. The cabbage and early-planted spinach harvests were ongoing. The harvesting of sugarcane, citrus and winter vegetables continued. Tomato growers were preparing for harvesting. Supplemental feeding of livestock increased.

SOUTH PLAINS: Soil moisture was short to adequate. Above-normal temperatures and minimal moisture made for optimum conditions for harvest across the region. The cotton and sorghum harvests were in full swing with highly variable yields from field to field for both crops. The corn harvest was nearly completed, with a wide range of yields depending upon hail damage and moisture. The peanut harvest was nearly over. Winter wheat was in good condition but could use rain. Pastures and ranges were in fair to good condition. Cattle were in good condition.

SOUTHEAST: Some areas received as much as 5.5 inches of rain. Winter pasture conditions remained poor as the rain came a month too late. Producers were over-seeding warm-season pastures with ryegrass, albeit a month late, so grazing benefits from winter pastures will be a month behind. Livestock producers were feeding hay.

SOUTHWEST: The region has remained completely rainless for nearly 40 days and missed the fall growing period. Year-to-date cumulative rainfall at 10.75 inches is 50 percent below the long-term average for the year and the second-driest period on record. (The driest was in 1956 with 9.3 inches.) Forage availability was below average entering winter dormancy. The cabbage, cucumber and spinach harvests continued. Fall vegetable crops and some winter wheat were making good progress under heavy irrigation. Land has been prepared for early spring planting, but planting dryland crops may be very limited because of depleted soil moisture.

WEST CENTRAL: Warm days with cool nights continued. A few areas reported scattered showers, but most areas remained extremely dry. The cotton harvest was in full swing. Most cotton looked good. Small grains emerged but needed moisture for continued growth. The peanut harvest was completed. Range and pastures were showing signs of moisture stress, and quality was declining. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Supplemental feeding of livestock increased. The pecan harvest was ongoing with low yields.

TAGS: Cotton
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