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Serving: West

Rainfall shortage remains biggest concern for Texas ag

Weather reversal is mixed blessing Lack of rain is biggest issue High winds depleting moisture

The state's weather did a 180 in the last week, going from abnormally cold to unseasonably warm, noted Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

However, the reversal was a mixed blessing. With few exceptions, many counties reported the warm, windy weather exacerbated already short to very short soil-moisture levels.

Though the previous hard freezes damaged crops, including wheat, oats and some vegetables, the ruling agricultural factor continued to be lack of rain.

"Producers are still in a holding pattern from last week," said Rick Auckerman, AgriLife Extension agent for Deaf Smith County, west of Amarillo. "We went from -7 to 77 degrees in one week’s time! Producers are trying to decide on some of their planting intentions, which will depend on how much rain we receive this spring. Winter wheat pasture is slim to none at this point, so producers are hunting for any available pasture."

"Conditions remain very dry with exceptionally warm temperatures," said Tommy Yeater, AgriLife Extension agent for Howard County, Big Spring. "Extremely dry conditions and high winds have caused several grass fires in the county."

"A warm, dry week with lots of sunshine has provided a boost to the wheat crop," said Heath Lusty, AgriLife Extension agent for Jack County, northeast of Fort Worth. "It's starting to come on now with several inches of growth and a lot of green-up, which is providing much-needed grazing for producers. The downside to the weather is that high winds have created a rapid drying-out of grasses, making fire danger high."

"Trinity County still needs rain," said Armon Hewitt, AgriLife Extension agent for Trinity County, southwest of Lufkin. "We have not had enough rain to fill stock-water ponds. Most of the moisture we received on rangeland over the last few weeks is already gone. Winter pastures have not grown as fast as producers need them, even with the warmer weather. Many producers are bringing in hay from out-of-county."

"It's super dry," said Arlan Gentry, AgriLife Extension agent for Ward County, north of Fort Stockton. "Mostly mild and warm temps this week, in the 80s. Pastures and range are extremely dry and brown—no weeds or winter grass."

"The extreme cold has been replaced with unusually warm temperatures for the past week," said Russell Kott, AgriLife Extension agent for Kimble County, northwest of San Antonio. "No moisture has been reported in the area, and none is expected. Producers with irrigation capabilities have seen winter hay grasses emerge, but little natural forage is available."

"High spring winds have depleted soil moisture as planting of corn begins," said Duane Campion, AgriLife Extension agent for San Patricio County, north of Corpus Christi. "There is sufficient moisture at this time, but rainfall will be needed before planting of cotton begins. Pastures have shown slight green-up from the recent freezing temperatures, but again, a lack of moisture is hindering pasture recovery."

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