Robert Burns

September 25, 2008

6 Min Read

Southeast Texas producers are not the only ones bailing storm water after Hurricane Ike. Some parts of the South Plains were also deluged, though from a different storm, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

"The average rainfall for the county was around 12 inches, but some areas reported over 15 inches and one rancher reported getting 20 inches," said Ryan Martin, AgriLife Extension agent for Motley County , northeast of Lubbock.

"Commissioners had several emergency meetings to discuss the situations with roads, Martin said. "Some roads are looking like they will be abandoned while others will take several weeks of work to get back into shape. Even though we received several inches of rain, crops are still looking good, except those that are standing in water, of course."

Parts of Floyd County received more than 8 inches, reported AgriLife Extension agent J. D. Ragland.

"We could have really used that 8 inches we just received back in July," Ragland said. “However, we don't always get the moisture when we need it."

Though the South Plains may have gotten hammered, it was nothing like the beating some Southeast Texas counties received, reported Corrie Bowen, AgriLife Extension agent in Brazoria County , about 50 miles south of Houston. "Rural areas still without electricity," Bowen said. "Many cattlemen still hauling water in some parts of the county."

One producer alone in southeast Brazoria County lost 150 head of cattle to the storm surge, Bowen said.

"High north winds drove the 150 head directly into the path of the storm and into the storm surge."

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

CENTRAL: Nights were getting cooler, slowing the growth of summer grasses. Pastures were grazed low due to dry weather and producers trying to stretch hay with limited supplies. Pecan crop is poor from lack of rain in May and June. August rains caused some varieties to fill late and swell to the point of cracking the shell.

COASTAL BEND: Milder weather with temperatures below normal moved in, and rains provided some soil moisture. However, the drought continued in most of the area. Fall armyworms were reported in forages. The second crop of rice looked good, but fields that were headed were damaged by the wind from Hurricane Ike. It was too early to determine the full extent of the storm's impact. Soybeans were being harvested. Farmers were mainly cleaning up land and fertilizing. Range and pasture conditions improved.

EAST: Hurricane Ike delivered quite a blow to most of the area. Rain measured between 2 inches and 4 inches, and thousands of trees were downed. Many houses, cars, barns, and fences also were damaged. Electricity and water have been restored to the majority of the counties. However, some areas were still without power. No reports were made of personal injury or loss of livestock.

FAR WEST: Pecans have finished the nut growth stage and were filling. Producers anticipated a sixth cutting of alfalfa. Chiles were turning red with high pod moisture. Cotton needed more hot days to keep from dropping bolls. Rain ranged from 0.5 to 3 inches. Heavy rains – from 5 to 17 inches – were reported in Terrell County. In southern Presidio County, nearly all the farmland from Presidio to Redford was flooded.

NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from adequate to surplus. The weather was mild with daytime temperatures in the 80s and nighttime temperatures in the 50s and 60s. Hurricane Ike took more of an eastern turn than expected, but it did bring rain and wind. There was some tree damage and several people lost power for a few hours. There were no reports of severe damage to crops or livestock. The rain halted harvest operations for a few days but open weather later allowed harvesting to resume. Some producers were taking a last cutting of hay. The rain from Gustav and Ike came just as sweet potato harvesting began, and now the crop is rotting in the ground. Wheat and other small grain planting began and should continue through October. Corn harvest was completed. The sorghum and soybeans harvests neared completion. Producers with late soybeans were spraying for velvet bean caterpillars. Cotton was in fair to good condition with bolls opening. Pastures were in good condition thanks to the rain. The hay supplies were reported as good for this year . Armyworms were reported. Livestock were in good condition with stable milk production.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were near normal most of the week. Soil moisture varied from surplus to very short with most areas indicating adequate to short. Corn was maturing with most of the crop in the dent stage. Cotton was mostly fair to good. Sorghum was mostly headed and turning color. Soybeans were mostly fair to good. Wheat planting was in full swing. Range conditions were mostly good. Cattle were in good condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: Most pastures across the region have had a tremendous response to the rain over the last couple of weeks. This week’s weather provided perfect conditions for harvesting hay and planting small grains. Stock tanks are full and cattle were in good condition heading into the fall. Wheat producers were busy planting, and the crop should emerge quickly. A few producers started the last cutting of Bermuda grass pastures for hay while others chose to defer grazing and use it as stockpiled forage this winter.

SOUTH: Scattered showers provided additional moisture to many parts of the region, raising soil moisture to adequate levels. Producers began preparing for the fall planting of cabbage, onions and spinach. Wheat and oat producers hoped for additional rain to begin planting. Cotton harvesting was completed. Livestock producers reported good to fair available forage on native range and pastures. Hay-baling operations throughout the area continued.

SOUTH PLAINS: The region remained dry after record rainfall the previous week. Daytime temperatures reached the high 70s to low 80s. Soil moisture was adequate. Cotton was in fair to good condition and needed more heat units. Sorghum continued to mature. Only a small number of sorghum acres have been harvested. Wheat planting continued, and early planted wheat should benefit from the recent moisture. The corn and pumpkin harvests were slowed by rain, and yields were reported as average. Peanuts were in fair to good condition and continued to mature. Pastures and ranges were in fair to good condition. Cattle were in mostly good to excellent condition.

SOUTHEAST: Wind and rain damage from Hurricane Ike caused an estimated 30 percent cotton loss in Brazos County. Some structural damage and many trees and fences were knocked down. Power outages shut down water wells, affecting some water supplies. Many cattle producers were still hauling water in some parts of the county. Most rice and cotton harvests were completed prior to Ike's landfall.

SOUTHWEST: Above-average rainfall was received during the last two weeks in August, but less than 1.5 inches has been received in September to date. The forage situation improved significantly, but more rain will be needed to sustain progress through winter since total rainfall is still deficient for the year. Fall crops were making good progress. The peanut harvest was gaining momentum. The cotton harvest was late but is now in full swing.

WEST CENTRAL: Warm days with cool nights were the norm. Soil moisture was good in most areas. A few counties remained extremely dry. Producers began planting small grains. Hay production slowed down. Cotton crop outlook did not look good for this season. Range and pasture conditions continued to improve. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Pecan producers were spraying for weevils.

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