Farm Progress

Topsoil moisture is blowing in the wind

Robert Burns

May 14, 2010

2 Min Read

With high winds and little or no rain, topsoils were drying out quickly throughout the state and stressing forages and other crops, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

In most areas, the situation was reported as being troubling but not yet critical. Wheat was heading out, and thanks to earlier wet weather promised good yields in most areas.

In Southwest Texas, cumulative rainfall totals for the last month were down about 40 percent, but wheat farmers were expecting to make a good wheat crop for the first time in five years.

Where they had irrigation in place, farmers were watering crops heavily. According to reports from AgriLife Extension agents, the situation was becoming more critical in East Texas, with its sandy soils that quickly dry out.

Randy Reeves, AgriLife Extension agent in Harrison County, northeast of Longview, said people are becoming concerned as the area is already 6 to 8 inches below normal rainfall accumulation for the year.

"One dead giveaway that we can tell it's real dry without just looking - - and I think any county agent can testify to this - - is normally this time of year we're covered up with vegetable disease problems," Reeves said. "And the fact is that it's so dry, we're just not seeing them."

Of bigger concern in East Texas, which is cow/calf county, is that Bermuda grass pastures are burning up.

The first cutting of warm-season hay is usually the last week of May, first week of June, but it's unlikely to happen this year, Reeves said.

"We'll get it (eventually), but it's gong to be late. A lot is going to depend upon what happens later this week and this coming weekend. If we don't get a rain soon, it's really going to set us back," he said.

Forecasters are predicting 15-25 mph winds for the rest of the week, with a chance of rain later, Reeves said.

"We need it bad," he said. "The wind definitely does not help."

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