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Serving: West

Rain slows harvests, planting but boosts wheat

Where weather permitted, harvesting of cotton, soybeans, hay and other crops continued in many parts of the state, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service reports.

In East Texas, beef producers began feeding hay or other supplemental feed. In Henderson County , as in many parts of the state, producers were trying to finish a final cutting of hay in front of rain and frost, said Rich Hirsch, AgriLife Extension agent based in Athens.

In North Texas , some producers were harvesting soybeans in the mud, said Roger Skipper, AgriLife Extension agent for Fannin County, northeast of Dallas.

"They're tracking their fields up (with four-wheel drive combines) to get them out," Skipper said. "We've had more than 30 inches of rain in September and October."

Skipper said some of the soybeans were alright while others were rotting in their pods. Whichever was the case seemed to depend upon many factors, including maturity of the variety, soil type and the amount of rain they received.

Despite the inconvenience, for most the rain was still welcome as it turbo-charged the growth of wheat pastures and other small winter grazing. In the Panhandle , stocker cattle were already on winter wheat pastures, said Dr. Brent Bean, AgriLife Extension agronomist based in Amarillo.

"In general, I think the wheat crop has gotten off to a good start," Bean said. "For those guys who were able to plant early when we had a little more moisture, the crop came up in reasonably good shape. For the most part, I think the grazing is pretty good this year."

According to a 2008 survey, Panhandle producers typically graze cattle on 50 percent to 55 percent of the wheat planted.

"Used to be higher than that, actually, closer to 70 or 75 percent, depending on the price of wheat," Bean said. "And on some years it may approach that, but I think the 50 to 55 percent is a pretty good number to use."

Bean said they didn't think they'd ever get the corn in because of wet conditions, but cotton was still being harvested.

"We had some wet, dewy mornings that kept people out of the (cotton) fields," he said. "Some the guys who were stripping cotton couldn't even start until 5 p.m, and then they would work until midnight."

The Panhandle cotton harvest should be finished in a couple of weeks, he said.

The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters:

CENTRAL: Most counties received moisture, and pastures and small grains showed good growth. Daytime temperatures were mild with cool nights. The pecan harvest continued with native varieties producing good yields. Producers were wrapping up the final hay harvesting.

COASTAL BEND: The entire region received substantial rain, and soil moisture levels began to stabilize. Cool nighttime temperatures slowed grass growth. Producers were applying herbicides. Beef producers continued to supply livestock with supplemental hay and protein.

EAST: Parts of the region received as much as 2 inches of rain. Cooler nighttime temperatures caused frost in some areas. Winter forages made good progress. The pecan harvest was ongoing. Producers in some parts of the region were selling hay to other counties. Many producers began feeding hay or other supplemental feed. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Feral hog damage was ongoing.

FAR WEST: Pecan trees were dropping nuts and leaves after freezing temperatures, and their harvesting began. Fall-planted onions emerged and were looking good. Alfalfa was going into dormancy. Cotton farmers were stripping cotton, and yields were better than expected. Red chiles were being harvested.

NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from adequate to surplus. In some areas, wet soils stalled out harvesting and field work. Some soybeans were harvested in the mud, and some pasture and no-till wheat were planted. Small grains and winter pasture planting was almost complete in other areas. Oats and winter wheat planting was in progress. The peanut harvest was about 50 percent complete. Some areas had a frost but still no hard freeze. Livestock were in fair to good condition, and producers were feeding hay. Cool weather slowed forage growth. Producers reported ryegrass pastures were the best they have seen in years. Conditions of rangeland and pasture varied from poor to excellent.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were average for this time of year. Soil moisture levels were low. The harvesting of small grain was nearly complete. Producers made good progress on the cotton harvest with above-average yields but with reduced quality. Producers shredded some cotton fields because of damage by hard freezes. Growers were still planting wheat behind corn and sorghum crops. Stocker cattle were put on small grains, and cows and calves were turned in on corn stalks. Native range was very short going into winter months. Cattle were overall in good condition with reports of respiratory problems but no significant deaths.

ROLLING PLAINS: Temperatures were in the mid-to-high 60s during the day with overnight temperatures dropping around the freezing mark. The cotton harvest was in full swing with producers reporting average to a little above average on irrigated yields. The dryland cotton harvest was just beginning and no yield information was available. Wheat planting was more than half finished. Most producers reported good stands and favorable conditions for growth. Hay remained in short supply, but wheat pasture could make up the difference in many counties. Rangeland was in good condition. Cattle on pasture were doing well, as were cattle turned out on wheat pasture. Peanut producers were finishing the harvest with good yields.

SOUTH: Soil moisture conditions were mostly adequate in the northern and southern part of the region. In most of the eastern and western parts, soil moisture was short. The northern part of the region received 2-3.5 inches of rain. Winter oats and wheat appeared to have survived the armyworm invasion in the northern counties. Peanut harvesting was in full swing but expected to wind down before December. The green bean and hay harvests were ongoing. Oats emerged and were doing well in most fields. Light rain in the western part of the region halted the harvest of baby spinach but provided much needed moisture to dryland wheat and oat fields. The cabbage harvesting was likewise slowed by the rain but was expected to resume soon. The harvesting of citrus and sugarcane continued in the southern parts of the region. Winter vegetables were progressing well, and growers were preparing for the tomato harvest. Rangeland and pastures were mostly in fair condition.

SOUTH PLAINS: The district had mild weather providing excellent conditions for harvests. The cotton harvest was about 75 percent complete. The sorghum harvest was nearly complete. Growers continued planting winter wheat and were preparing land for where harvests had been completed. Pastures and rangeland were in fair condition. Beef producers continued supplemental feeding of livestock.

SOUTHEAST: Soil moisture levels were up but rangeland still showed the effect of drought. Temperatures have been seasonal, and winter annuals were showing good growth. Rain helped the pastures but slowed the ratoon rice harvest. The talk among the farmers was that this year's soybean crop was the best in a long time, but there was some danger of mold in the crop where there have been frequent rains. Producers were baling hay between the rains. Livestock looked good.

SOUTHWEST: Rain continued to improve the agricultural situation, with more rain forecast because of El Nino. Over the last three months, rain has been about 165 percent of the long-term average. The rains will make possible early spring planting. Cool weather helped conserve moisture. Forage availability improved. Small grains were making excellent progress. The pecan harvest was nearly complete. The cabbage, pickling cucumber, green bean and peanut harvests were ongoing.

WEST CENTRAL: Mild weather prevailed with cool to warm days and cold nights. Many parts of the district received the first frost of the season. Producers continued cutting and baling hay. Winter wheat was doing very well, but the crop will need more moisture soon to continue good growth. Some greenbug damage has been reported in small grains. The cotton harvest was under way. Irrigated cotton yields were good. Dryland cotton yields were below average. Stock water tanks and pond levels remained low. The pecan harvest was ongoing with poorer than expected yields.

TAGS: Corn
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