Robert Burns

December 3, 2008

5 Min Read

The dry weather has been a timely blessing for those harvesting cotton and other crops. But for many producers, with the exception of East Texas, drought-like conditions continued to take its toll on winter pastures, wheat and oats, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

"We've not seen any form of moisture in the last couple of months," said Jason Miller, AgriLife Extension agent in Stonewall County , north of Abilene. "Wheat crops need a rain to continue to look promising for producers."

"The county remains dry still," said Josh Blanek, AgriLife Extension agent in Somervell County , south of Fort Worth."We received only a trace of rain during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Pastures show little green, and wheat and oats show little growth. Producers are having to turn livestock in (on wheat) with no other grazing available."

"The gins will be finished this year ahead of schedule due to the short crop that is coming in," said Rick Auckerman, AgriLife Extension agent in Deaf Smith County , west of Amarillo. "Winter wheat is holding its own, with the dryland crops in need of a drink soon. The irrigated wheat acres are being stocked with cattle all over the county."

"Our county continues to be one of the driest areas of the state," said Dirk Aaron, AgriLife Extension agent in Bell County , south of Waco. "Growers are trying to complete wheat planting before the first of December and are concerned that emerged wheat could be lost due to lack of moisture."

"Conditions remain unusually dry for this time of year," said Mark Currie, AgriLife Extension agent in Polk County , north of Houston. "We need moisture for ryegrass and clover."

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

CENTRAL: The region remained dry; winter pastures needed rain. The pecan crop looked poor and stock tanks were low. Supplemental haying and feeding continued.

COASTAL BEND: Grazing conditions remained bleak. Farmers were holding off on fertilizing due to high prices and market uncertainty. The pecan crop was small but with fair quality.

EAST: With the exception of Polk and Marion counties, most of the region received a good rain. Feral hogs continued to cause damage throughout the area. Many producers were feeding hay and considering winter forage options. Livestock were in good condition.

FAR WEST: Counties reported mild temperatures with warm days, cool nights and no rain. Most of the better cotton was harvested, and the grain sorghum was nearly complete. Wheat needed rain.

NORTH: Recent rains were minimal, and winds following the rain further dried out topsoils. Several areas were still in need of moisture. Soil moisture ranged from adequate to short. The winter crops and forage were marginal from lack of moisture. The corn, soybean and sorghum harvests were completed. The planting of oats and winter wheat neared completion. Winter wheat did benefit from the light rain and was developing good stands in some areas. The pecan harvest was ongoing. Livestock producers increased feeding hay as pastures diminished.

PANHANDLE: Some counties received moisture. Soil moisture varied from very short to surplus with most areas reporting adequate. The corn and sorghum harvests were wrapping up in some counties. The cotton harvest was ongoing, but there were many immature bolls due to a late-to-mature crop at first freeze. Some wheat was still being planted. Wheat ratings varied from poor to excellent with most areas reporting fair to good. Rangeland was rated from very poor to fair with most areas reporting fair. Cattle were in good condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: The region is stuck in a dry-weather pattern. All counties need rain. Wheat farmers need a rain to bring up late-planted winter wheat. Early planted wheat looks good with some producers using it for grazing. The cotton harvest was ongoing; irrigated yields were a little below average and quality was down. Though rangeland also needed rain, livestock were in good condition, and stock tank levels were adequate. The pecan crop looked weak.

SOUTH: The drought continued, resulting in very short soil moisture conditions. The peanut harvest was ongoing but should be finished within a week. A burn ban in eastern counties was still in effect. The lack of moisture in eastern counties delayed the planting of spring wheat and oats. In the western counties, the cabbage and spinach harvests were still in progress. Onions and spinach in that area have progressed well due to cooler weather. Harvesting of sugarcane, vegetables and citrus continued in the southern parts of the region. The condition of livestock in much of the region began to decline from lack of good quality forage. Livestock producers increased supplemental feeding accordingly.

SOUTH PLAINS: Dry topsoil conditions were exacerbated by moderate winds. Soil moisture was short to adequate. The cotton harvest was ongoing with average to good yields. The sorghum harvest wound down, while the sunflower harvest was completed. Late corn was slow to dry down to where it can be harvested. Winter wheat was in fair to good condition. Most wheat established a good root system but was in need of a good rain. Pastures and ranges were in fair to good condition. Cattle were in mostly good condition with limited supplemental feeding ongoing.

SOUTHEAST: Temperatures were in low 70s with 97 percent humidity. Winter pasture growth was slow because of late planting and cool temperatures. Though more than 5 inches of rain was received three weeks ago, a moisture deficit was expected for row crop fields. Brazoria County has been extremely dry for most of 2008. There was no pecan harvest because orchards were damaged by Hurricane Ike.

SOUTHWEST: The region has remained completely dry for 48 days. Forage availability is below average going into the winter dormant season. The peanut harvest was completed. The pecan, cabbage, cucumber, and spinach harvests continued. Spinach, cabbage, and other fall vegetable crops were making good progress under heavy irrigation. Potato planting will begin in about 30 days. Planting dryland row crops may be very limited unless the region receives above-average rainfall during the winter months.

WEST CENTRAL: Mild days and cold nights continued. All areas remain extremely dry and in need of rain. Small grains continued to decline due to dry conditions. The cotton harvest was ongoing with average yields. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Supplemental feeding of livestock increased. The pecan harvest was in full swing but had poor yields.

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