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Hard freeze hammers ag operations

Fieldwork halted Crops damaged Livestock stressed

Freezing cold hammered agricultural operations, halting fieldwork, damaging crops and stressing livestock, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

Though agents noted some positive aspects—death of overwintering insects and moisture from melt-off—most reports on the winter storm's effects on agriculture were negative.

"Producers were busy tending to livestock by putting out feed ahead of the storm, placing livestock behind wind breaks, thawing water and busting ice," said Mike Bragg, AgriLife Extension agent for Dallam County, northwest of Amarillo. "There was one report of a dairy being completely without water due to frozen pipes and producers had to hand-deliver water to cows. With record temperatures being broken from as far back as the early 1900s this was definitely the coldest period to date."

"Extremely cold temperatures had cattle producers feeding extra hay and cake to cattle across the county," said Steven Sparkman, AgriLife Extension agent for Hardeman County, northwest of Wichita Falls. "A cold, dry snow fell Tuesday and Wednesday; little if any beneficial moisture came from the system."

"Dry weather continues and so does the suffering of wheat and winter forages," said John Senter, AgriLife Extension agent for Mitchell County, west of Abilene.

"Tank levels continue to fall to critical, boggy levels. Cotton ginning is winding down, with bale count exceeding 60,000. Cattlemen are facing dire situations with extreme losses in grazing and short gains on wheat-grazed cattle."

"We had some wheat and oat damage, some livestock loss," said Whit Weems, AgriLife Extension agent for Comanche County, southwest of Dallas. "We will have a better understanding of damage from the severe weather within the next two weeks."

"The extended period of time of below freezing temperatures has burned and set back winter forages," said Aaron Low, AgriLife Extension agent for Cherokee County, south of Tyler. "Most livestock remain in fair condition."

"Recent cold weather had a mixed effect on production," said Glenn Avriett, AgriLife Extension agent for Comal County, near San Antonio. "Cold weather caused stress on animals, damaged some winter pastures and recently emerged spring wheat, but the moisture was welcome. Time will tell how much crop damage there will be on winter pastures and spring wheat, but there were no reports of animal deaths."

"Cold temperatures caused some sensitive plants to freeze or die back," said George Gonzales, AgriLife Extension agent for Webb County, which includes Laredo. "The total extent of the plant damage is not yet known. Cattle remain in good-to-fair body condition and got through the cold spell just fine. Range and pasture conditions will decline due to the freezing of new forage re-growth and overall plant stress encountered with the cold temperatures."

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