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Harvest conditions vary across Texas

Most of the state continued to suffer from low soil-moisture levels, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

Other areas, particularly the Panhandle, welcomed warm, mild temperatures that favored harvest of cotton and other row crops.

"Conditions continue to decline as we approach the winter months," said Jason Byrd, AgriLife Extension agent for Lampasas County, west of Temple. "There is no moisture to speak of, and it's taking its toll on small grains. Livestock body condition is declining and supplemental feeding of livestock is in full swing."

"Harvesting of cotton in the area has taken off, some have good crops and some not so good," said Steve Sturtz, AgriLife Extension agent for Tom Green County based in San Angelo. "This is due to the rainfall coming at the right times, and some being irrigated. The cotton so far seems to be pretty good. Rangeland, pasture and wildlife are very poor from lack of rain."

"Livestock producers are selling older cows and pulling off young calves to lessen feeding through the winter," said Rachel Bauer, AgriLife Extension agent for Bastrop County southeast of Austin. "Stock ponds are drying up and cows are bogging down. The pecan crop is moderate to good in irrigated bottoms."

"It's all about harvest this week," said J.D. Ragland, AgriLife Extension agent for Floyd County, northeast of Lubbock. "Yes, cotton, sorghum and the final corn harvest are in full swing as Floyd County producers put in long and hard hours trying to get this year's crop all out of the field and to the gin or elevator."

"The corn crop for my county is nearly complete, but a freeze has troubled the harvesting of grain sorghum and cotton," said Rick Auckerman, AgriLife Extension agent for Deaf Smith County, west of Amarillo.

"The cotton crop has suffered the most from the freeze. Some fields are not maturing as they should. Bolls are not opening due to maturity issues," Auckerman said. "Producers are starting to stock early planted irrigated wheat with cattle. The trucks are moving in the county shuffling animals to all areas in the county."

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

CENTRAL: Fields planted for winter grazing showed little growth. Stock tanks were low. The number of stocker calves placed on wheat and oats increased. Pastures were thin at best, and signs of overgrazing were becoming common. Rain was needed in all counties.

COASTAL BEND: There was no significant rainfall and the drought worsened. Many pastures were planted with oats, but no moisture meant no germination. Likewise, over-seeding pastures with ryegrass was delayed because of the lack of moisture. Row-crop fields were bedded for spring planting. Pastures were deteriorating. Livestock were in good shape with many being fed supplements.

EAST: No rain remained the major issue across the area. Dry conditions were causing some producers to put winter planting on hold. In Sabine County, creeks were drying out. However, there was no apparent shortage of feral hogs as they continued to cause damage in many counties. Some producers were selling calves, while others were holding on and hoping to see market improvement.

FAR WEST: A light frost came late in the week, but overall, the region saw milder temperatures and no precipitation. The cool weather slowed the maturation of crops. Some grain sorghum fields will not be harvested for grain; instead they may be baled or grazed. Cutworms were found in Dell Valley alfalfa fields. The cotton harvest began. The shrimp harvest was completed. Pecans were ready to be harvested, but producers were waiting on a hard frost.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were above normal. Soil moisture ranged from very short to surplus with most areas reporting adequate. Corn was still being harvested in some fields. Cotton ranged from very poor to good with most areas reporting poor to fair. The soybean harvest continued, with areas reporting sorghum in the mature stage. The sorghum and sunflower harvest continued. Wheat varied from very poor to excellent with most areas reporting fair to good. Range conditions were very poor to fair with most areas reporting fair. Cattle were in good condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: The region saw a light frost, and temperatures vacillated, with some days above average and others below. Cotton producers were still waiting on a freeze. Cotton acreage was defoliated and stripped. Soil moisture was adequate in some areas while low in others. The sorghum crop continued to mature and was rated excellent. Wheat fields were in good to excellent condition with some counties reporting the crop as being 100 percent planted. Peanut producers were about to finish up their harvest. Livestock and pastures were in good to excellent condition.

SOUTH: Short to very short soil moisture conditions persisted in most of the region with the exception of the southernmost counties where they were reported as adequate. In the northern counties, mild temperatures and dry conditions adversely affected all crops, including oats and wheat. Oat and wheat crops were still being planted there, but earlier planted stands were thin because of lack of moisture. Field work for the 2009 crop season continued, and small acreages of grain were prepared for harvesting in the eastern parts of the region. Producers in the southern counties were harvesting citrus, sugarcane and vegetables. Range and pasture conditions continued to decline as a result of cooler soil temperatures and the lack of soil moisture. Ranchers were planting food plots to supplement deer herds and other wildlife.

SOUTH PLAINS: The region experienced mostly warm and dry weather that allowed for harvesting. Soil moisture was adequate. The cotton and sorghum harvest was ongoing with highly variable yields for both crops. The corn and peanut harvests were nearly complete, and the pumpkin harvest was completed. Wheat was in good condition, having responded extremely well to the warm days. Cattle were grazed on much of the wheat. Pastures and ranges were in fair to good condition. Cattle were in good condition.

SOUTHEAST: Recent rains aided the establishment of winter grasses in a few counties. In others, extremely dry conditions continued, delaying the planting of winter rye and oats. Where pastures were planted to winter oats, the lack of moisture meant no germination. Groundwater was becoming a concern. Madison County coastal Bermuda grass was starting to go into dormancy. Incidences of wildfires increased.

SOUTHWEST: The region remained extremely dry. Forage availability was below average going into the winter. The cabbage, cucumber and spinach harvests continued. Spinach, cabbage, other fall-vegetable crops and some recently planted winter wheat were making good progress under heavy irrigation.

WEST CENTRAL: Temperatures continued to be cool and dry. All areas needed rain. The cotton harvest was in full swing. Wheat continued to look good. Armyworm problems diminished. Range and pasture conditions were extremely poor due to dry conditions. Livestock were in fair to good condition in most areas. Supplemental feeding increased. The pecan harvest began , though yields were expected to be light.

TAGS: Cotton
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