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Armyworm infestations severe in some regions

Reports of armyworms devouring pastures and newly planted wheat increased in many parts of the state as producers attempted to finish the cotton harvest and plant small grains, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel from throughout the state.

Most of the Rolling Plains reported infestations. In some counties, they were severe enough to cause producers to replant winter wheat.

"Wheat planting continues and some are going to have to replant due to armyworms," said Heath Lusty, AgriLife Extension agent for agriculture in Jack County, south of Wichita Falls.

"Some pastures and wheat did see some fall armyworm damage but with cooler temperatures those problems should decline,” said Miles Dabovich, AgriLife Extension agent for agriculture in Wichita County in North Texas.

"The county received about 1.25 inch of rain on Monday,” said Wes Utley, AgriLife Extension agent for agriculture in Haskell County , north of Abilene. "Many wheat producers who have wheat up are having to fight armyworms. Others are beginning to plant again."

"Farmers have been spraying their wheat for armyworms that have been seen throughout the county," said Adam Bonner, AgriLife Extension agent for agriculture in Knox County , southwest of Vernon. "Many farmers have been trying to spot spray around fence lines where there has been quite a bit of activity."

"Wheat planting is well past 70 percent completed," said John Senter, AgriLife Extension agent for agriculture in Mitchell County , east of Big Spring. "However, stands are still slow to emerge and are still trying to recover from early armyworm pressure and above-average temps for much of September."

"Armyworms continue to devastate small grain fields and some coastal fields," said Marty Gibbs, AgriLife Extension agent for agriculture in Runnels County , northeast of San Angelo. "The harvest is under way on some of the earlier cotton with good yields reported."

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

CENTRAL: Recent rains raised soil moisture levels. The afternoons were warm with cool evenings. Most small-grain fields have been planted for grazing. Most producers were supplementally feeding cattle.

COASTAL BEND: A small part of the southeast district received some rain, but most of the area continued to experience drought. Supplemental feeding of livestock was necessary in some areas. As commodity prices continued to drop, farmers became more concerned about high fertilizer and fuel prices.

EAST: Lack of rain and the resulting drop of soil moisture levels has delayed winter forage planting. Many producers continue to bale hay. Armyworm infestations were reported in many counties.

FAR WEST: Some scattered showers were reported around the district with rainfall accumulations ranging from 0.7 inch to 1 inch. Hail accompanied the storm, and some cotton fields were hailed out. The rain helped the winter wheat but wasn't good for cotton. High winds damaged pecans that were nearly ready for harvest.

NORTH: Soil moisture was adequate in some counties but short in others as there has been no rain since Hurricane Ike. The planting of winter annuals slowed where soil moisture was low. Pasture conditions were good, and hay harvested was of fairly good quality. Livestock were in good condition. Sunflowers were being harvested. The corn harvest was completed, and the soybean and sorghum harvests were nearly completed. Cotton was in good shape with about 30 percent to 50 percent harvested and bolls opening on the rest. Winter wheat and oats were being planted. Warm-season grass growth slowed down with cooler nighttime temperatures. Feral hog activity was again on the increase. Armyworms continued to plague some pastures, particularly fertilized hay meadows. Sweet potato growers reported problems with field rats and mice damaging the crop before harvest.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were near to slightly above average most of the week. Most of the region received some rain at the end of the reporting period. Soil moisture ranged from surplus to very short with most areas reporting short to adequate. Corn was mostly fair to good. Cotton and sorghum were mostly fair. Soybeans were good. Wheat varied from fair to excellent with most areas reporting fair. Range and pasture conditions varied from very poor to good with most areas reporting good. Cattle were in good condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: A severe infestation of fall armyworms invaded most of the region's 24 counties, causing widespread damage to hay meadows, pastures and home lawns. Fly populations remained high in areas where control measures were not implemented. Evenings were cool, but daytime temperatures were often in the 90s. Rains received in some areas will help winter wheat to emerge; in other areas, it should allow further wheat planting. However, the rain delayed cotton harvesting. In Haskell County, producers were thrashing peanuts. Livestock were in good condition in all counties.

SOUTH: The weather was hot and dry. Pasture and range conditions deteriorated due to lack of soil moisture. Livestock were in good condition with minimal supplemental feeding. Onion harvesting began in some areas, and producers were preparing fields for onion planting in other areas. The peanut harvest began. Spinach planting was ongoing. Cotton gins were busy throughout the area.

SOUTH PLAINS: The region had several days of warm, open fall weather, followed by a weekend of rain showers. Soil moisture was short to adequate. Cotton was in fair to good condition. A few cotton fields were defoliated, and harvest should begin soon for some fields. However, much of the cotton crop needed more time for bolls to open. Later-planted sorghum fields continued to mature. Yields of earlier-planted sorghum varied widely. Winter wheat planting continued. Corn harvest neared completion with average yields reported. Pumpkin harvest was in full swing. Peanuts were being dug, and combining should start next week. Pastures and ranges were in fair to good condition. Cattle were in good shape with little to no supplemental feeding.

SOUTHEAST: Range conditions were favorable for cattle. Producers will have to shred pasture to plant winter varieties. Storm surge from Hurricane Ike has affected the condition of rangeland in south Chambers County.

SOUTHWEST: Other than a trace of rainfall, the region has been dry since mid-September. Year-to-date cumulative rainfall was about 52 percent of the long-term average. Pastures and ranges were stressed, and it's doubtful that sufficient forage to over-winter livestock will be produced before the first killing frost. Fall crops were making good progress under heavy irrigation. The pecan harvest began. The peanut and cabbage harvests continued, as did the harvest of cucumbers for pickling. The cotton harvest was completed, but about 10 percent of the cotton remains in field-stored modules. Spinach planting continued.

WEST CENTRAL: Weather conditions remained constant with hot days and cool nights. Producers increased field activities, including plowing and planting. Cotton harvesting began in a few counties. Armyworms infested small-grain fields. Range and pasture conditions were extremely poor as soils dried up. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Stock tank levels continued to drop. Pecans were beginning to fill, but light yields are expected.

TAGS: Management
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