Robert Burns

July 31, 2008

6 Min Read

While Hurricane Dolly trashed the Lower Rio Grande Valley cotton crop, it failed for the most part to alleviate drought conditions in most of Texas. After ruining 91,000 acres of the Valley's cotton, Dolly brought from 1- 8 inches of rain into the Coastal Bend, 6 - 8 inches in the South, and more than 3 inches in parts of the Panhandle.

But the storm then moved to the west, and hot, dry conditions prevailed for much of the rest of Texas, according to regional reports from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

Why did Dolly skip over Central and West Texas and give rain to the Panhandle?

The hurricane made landfall north of Brownsville, then moved west, said Jerald Meadows, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, Amarillo. Because of high pressure areas, the center of the storm tracked just south of the Rio Grande River until it reached New Mexico.

"There was a high pressure system sitting on the northern end of New Mexico as Dolly’s moisture got up around El Paso. It caught in the track of that upper air high pressure system and got moved into the Texas Panhandle," Meadows said.

Rainfall amounts varied across the Panhandle.

"It was really kind of blotchy," he said. "We’ve gotten anywhere from 3 1/3 inches at the airport here in Amarillo all the way down to a quarter of an inch a couple miles away."

Most of the Eastern Panhandle counties got rain. There were some larger storms near the Oklahoma border that dumped nearly two inches, he said. The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters this week:

Central: The region remained hot and dry, with rangeland and pastures showing severe signs of drought stress. Livestock producers were feeding hay to maintain cattle. Stock tanks and creek beds were nearly dry. Much of the corn crop was being harvested for grain or was cut for silage. Cotton badly needed rain.

Coastal Bend: Hurricane Dolly pushed much needed rains into most of the area. Rain ranged from 1 - 8 inches. Forages were expected to recover with improved soil moisture. Harvests were held up due to heavy rain. There were reports of damage to cotton. Little wind damage was reported. Eastern counties reported less rain than those in the western part of the region and still need moisture.

East: Hot, dry weather prevailed with reports of scattered showers in isolated areas. Pastures and hay meadows made little growth. The hay harvest slowed, with low yields. Nacogdoches County reported armyworms in pastures and hayfields. Some producers were already feeding hay, though cattle remained in good condition. Vegetable production dropped as the season ended.

Far West: The region was hot and dry with isolated thunderstorms. Spring-planted onions were harvested. Chiles were in full bloom and developing fruit. Many area farmers were declaring their cotton lost. Sorghum showed signs of severe stress from lack of moisture. Area ranchers were trying to deal with high feed costs and no grass.

North: Soil moisture ranged from adequate to very short. It was hot and dry, with temperatures at the century mark and no rain. The hot weather was starting to affect crops and forage, but most of the corn and sorghum crop made before the onset of dry weather. Corn was in good condition and 90 percent to 100 percent silked, doughing and denting. Sorghum was also in good shape, with a wide range of maturity. Harvesting of some sorghum began. Dairy producers were harvesting corn and sorghum as silage. Cotton was in good to fair condition, and 100 percent was squaring and setting bolls. Peaches continued to do well. Hay production was ongoing with supply exceeding demand and relatively good quality. Range and pasture conditions were from good to poor. Livestock were in fair to good shape.

Panhandle: Temperatures were near average, with soil moisture rated adequate to very short; most areas reported adequate. Corn varied from very poor to good with most areas reporting fair, and was tasseling in most areas. The cotton crop was squaring and setting bolls. Peanuts were rated mostly fair with most fields pegging. Sorghum was rated mostly fair. Rangeland was rated mostly fair. Cattle were in good condition.

Rolling Plains: Extremely hot, dry weather has prevailed, with temperatures climbing past the century mark on several days. Crop and pastures were drying out. Even with the dry weather, the sorghum crop was looking excellent. However, AgriLife Extension agents said even sorghum was unlikely to persevere without some moisture in the next few weeks. Most milo finished growing, but it was not forecast to make much of a crop due to extremely high temperatures during pollination and lack of moisture during the head-filling stage. The cotton crop was holding on but in desperate need of rain. Some cotton fields were beginning to square, but most of the crop was way behind. Pastures and livestock were in good shape, but as with sorghum, more moisture is needed. Stock water tanks were quickly drying out.

South: Cotton harvesting was halted due to the threat of Hurricane Dolly, which made its way through the area on July 23. The storm dumped an average of 6- 8 inches of rain in most areas. Heavy rain and strong winds caused extensive damage to corn, cotton, sugar cane, citrus, grain, sorghum and other crops. Except for late plantings, harvesting of grain crops was completed before the storm. As expected, grain yields were disappointing. Range and pastures showed marked improvement following the storm. Producers continued supplemental feeding of livestock pending assessment of forage conditions.

South Plains: Temperatures were in the mid to upper 90s with no precipitation. Soil moisture was short to adequate. Cotton was in fair to good condition, with growth stages ranging from square to bloom. Corn was in good to excellent condition and progressing well under irrigation. Sorghum was in fair to good condition and was in the early growth stage. Pumpkin acreage was down this year, but the crop was progressing well, with producers irrigating and applying fungicides. Peanuts were in fair to good condition. Pastures and ranges were in fair to good condition, having been improved by recent rains. Cattle conditions were mostly good, with supplemental feeding continuing.

Southwest: The region received only about 0.4 of an inch of rain from Hurricane Dolly. Temperatures were cooler, but the area remained extremely dry with year-to-date rainfall down about 70 percent from the long-term average. Cotton and peanuts made good progress under heavy irrigation. The corn and sorghum harvest was underway. The watermelon and cantaloupe harvest was winding down.

West Central: Extremely hot, dry conditions continued. A few areas reported scattered showers. Moisture conditions were reaching the critical stage for crops. Corn was almost mature, and harvest was expected to begin in a few fields. Irrigated cotton was doing well. Range and pastures were dry. Most pastures have browned out and gone dormant. Livestock body conditions were declining. Supplemental feeding continued. Pecans were beginning to form.

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