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Field hands harvest onions in the Texas Winter Garden area
<p> Field hands harvest onions in the Texas Winter Garden area.</p>

Conditions ‘normal’: hot and dry with high winds and hammering hail

Water tables are dropping, and some wells are pumping a bit of air. Conditions varied widely in the rest of the state. Parts of the Panhandle, South Plains and Rolling Plains also received some rain, but in many cases it was accompanied by high winds and damaging hail.

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to vegetable and melon production in the Winter Garden area of Southwest Texas, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert.

“The crops are actually doing pretty good, though it’s getting extremely dry again,” said Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist specialist, Uvalde.

“Our water tables are dropping, and some of our wells are pumping a bit of air,” he said. “We need runoff to replenish rivers and reservoirs, although we will finish the spring and summer crops okay.”

The situation is becoming reminiscent of last fall, when growers worried if they’d have enough water to plant and to get crops emerged, he said.

“This coming fall, we’re not sure what we’re going to have,” Stein said.

Conditions varied widely in the rest of the state, according to weekly reports from AgriLife Extension county agents. Parts of North and East Texas were in excellent to good shape, with rains filling stock tanks and promoting crop growth.

Parts of the Panhandle, South Plains and Rolling Plains also received some rain, but in many cases it was accompanied by high winds and damaging hail. In Hale County, north of Lubbock, hail hammered about a quarter of the county’s 400,000 acres of cotton.

In Deaf Smith County, southwest of Amarillo, about 1,500 acres of cotton were hailed out, according to Rick Auckerman, AgriLife Extension county agent. About 1,000 acres of cotton were lost the week before to hail.

Lubbock County also had high winds and some pea- to marble-size hail, but the benefits of 1 inch to 2 inches of rain that came with the hail outweighed the damage to crops, said Mark Brown, AgriLife Extension county agent.

East of Lubbock, Motley County had winds gusting near 90 miles per hour. The winds, aided by hail, destroyed nearly all cotton in the county, according to Ryan Martin, AgriLife Extension county agent.

More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/.

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