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Serving: West

West Texas crops need water; better than last year

Fewer triple digit days than last year. Some rainfall helping crop production. More moisture needed for cotton, peanut crops.

Crop conditions may be somewhat south of ideal through much of the Texas Southern Plains, but, compared to last year, the situation is much less grim.

“We have not had as many 100-degree days as we had by this time last summer,” says Scott Russell, Texas AgriLife Integrated Pest Management agent for Yoakum and Terry counties. “We don’t have deep soil moisture, but producers who have adequate water to keep up with crop demand will do okay.”

Russell will participate in a mid-season crop check-up—along with Jason Woodward, Extension plant pathologist; Mark Kelly, Extension cotton specialist; and Peter Dotray, Texas AgriLife research, weeds and herbicides—Thursday, July 26, at the Terry County co-op gin in Brownfield, Texas. Russell said a few areas have received rain over the past few weeks.

“The north half of Terry County had decent moisture in June and early July,” Russell said. “The south half of Terry County and most of Yoakum County is very dry. The area got some showers in early July, as much as 3 inches, but that was followed by triple digit heat.”

He said cotton with 7 nodes above white flower (NAWF), “still has yield potential. But some fields where water is not as good are showing 5.5 NAWF. If they get no more moisture, they are nearing cutout.”

He said cotton plants are averaging 14 to 16 total nodes and 8 to 9 first position squares.

“Most irrigated cotton looks fair,” he said. “Some fields with marginal water will push to cutout and will make lower yields.”

Insect pests have not been a factor so far. “We’ve seen a few worms on non-Bollgard cotton but not to threshold levels. Infestations seem to be higher in vegetative fields.”

Herbicide-resistant careless weeds have caused some concern, he said. “Most growers are doing a good job getting resistant careless weeds out with residual herbicides. I’ve also seen a lot of hoe hands in the fields.”

Russell said the peanut crop is promising. “Peanuts look good. Farmers limited acreage to where they had water. The early flush of blooms produced a good peg set, and we should have a good crop if we can keep up with water demand.”

He said Valencia peanuts “are full-size, but not yet mature. Runner and Virginia peanuts also are in good shape. We have seen no disease problems, even with some rain showers. We haven’t identified leaf spot or pod rot infestations.”

Russell said the area grape crop also shows promise. “We have one of the largest acreages of grapes in the state,” Russell said. Terry County typically produces about 800 acres of wine grapes, usually the largest production in the state. Grapes go mostly to Texas wineries.

“This crop is moving right along,” Russell said. “White grapes should be ready for harvest from Aug. 10 to 15. Red grapes will be ready in early September. Most vineyards are loaded and some growers are thinning.”

Hot weather is good for grapes, Russell said. “The heat makes them sweeter.” He said the diversity that grape production adds is good for the county economy.

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