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Severe storms bring high winds and hail damage

Severe storms hit parts of the Panhandle and the Rolling Plains, bringing with them high winds and hail damage, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service reports.

In some counties, the hail damage was light. In others, severe. In Lubbock County, for example, hail damaged approximately 60,000 acres of crops, mostly cotton, said Mark Brown, AgriLife Extension agent.

Of that acreage, Brown estimates from 20,000 to 30,000 acres were a total loss.

"It started at Abernathy in the northern part of the county and traveled south/southeasterly and took out a strip on the east part of the county," Brown said.

In Bailey County near Muleshoe, baseball-size hail reduced some waist-high corn to merely stubble, said Curtis Preston, AgriLife Extension agent. "I've never seen it that bad before," Preston said.

So far, about 3,000 to 5,000 acres – mostly corn – have been reported by Bailey County farmers as lost. When all reports are in, Preston expects the total losses to be more like 50,000 acres in Bailey County alone.

Other counties reporting hail damage included Parmer, Gaines, Cochran, Yoakum, Dickens, Garza, Hall, Hardeman, Mitchell, Nolan, Scurry, Hudspeth, Pecos, and Floyd.

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

CENTRAL: The region saw warm and windy weather with some counties receiving rainfall. Corn and sorghum crops were suffering from lack of moisture and were losing yield as rapid maturity set in. Some corn was being chopped for silage. Fertility was a problem in coastal Bermuda grass fields because growers either did not fertilize at all or drastically reduced rates.

COASTAL BEND: The drought worsened, with extreme heat and little to no rain. Cotton was cut in most fields, and the grain harvest is under way. Ranges and pastures were in poor shape. Supplemental feeding intensified due to little and low-quality grass. Hay prices were quickly rising as the hay supply diminished.

EAST: There were widely scattered showers over the area, with amounts ranging from a quarter inch to 2 inches. High temperatures and winds caused more topsoil moisture loss. In Henderson County, strong winds damaged trees and barns. Vegetable diseases increased, including blossom end rot in tomatoes and other fungus problems. In Nacogdoches County, purple hull peas were beginning to produce. Hay baling continued, though the quality was poor as there has been little or no fertilizer use because of the high price for nitrogen. In San Augustine County, broiler litter, which can be used an alternative fertilizer, was becoming scarce. Cattle were still in good condition, but fly problems were increasing on both cattle and horses.

FAR WEST: Parts of the region received light showers with only about 0.15 inch accumulation. The weather was typically windy and hot. Wildfires burned more than 14,500 acres. The fall-planted onion harvest was about 75 percent complete. Producers began their third cutting of alfalfa. The winter wheat harvest was behind schedule. Cotton was at squaring stage. Rangeland was extremely dry.

NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from short to surplus. Weather was mild with some scattered rain and strong wind gusts. Rains were good and timely in some areas. All crops, including corn, grain sorghum and soybeans, are doing very well with recent rains. Grass was starting to do well. Livestock were also doing well as pastures and hay meadows were lush and green. The wheat and oat harvest neared completion; yield reports were above average by as much as 10 bushels per acre. Rains slowed the last of the wheat harvest, causing some losses. Some vetch seed was shattered due to rain. Good quality hay and good yields were reported, though not as high as they might have been if farmers had been able to afford to normally fertilize.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were near to slightly above average. Thunderstorms brought rain to most counties. Soil moisture varied from surplus to very short, with most areas reporting short. Corn was rated fair to good, with most areas reporting fair. There were reports of spider mites. Cotton was in excellent to very poor condition with most areas reporting fair to poor. High thrips counts caused some producers to start spraying. Peanut, sorghum and soybeans were mostly in fair condition. Wheat was in fair to poor condition, with most areas reporting poor. The wheat harvest continued. Oats were rated good. Range conditions were rated fair to very poor, with most reporting poor. Cattle were in fair condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: The Rolling Plains saw tornados, high winds, hail and rain. The western counties – Childress, Dickens, Hardeman and Wilbarger – were especially hard hit. The district had one 110-degree day and 100 mph winds on another day. Most producers thought the accompanying rain, though badly needed, was not worth the storm. Electric poles and barns were also wind-damaged, and lightning strikes caused fires. The eastern part of the district fared better, as a mid-week cool front brought those counties from 1 inch to 1.5 inches of rain. Cotton was off to a bad start. County agents were scouting fields to determine the survival rate of cotton. Despite high fuel costs, producers were plowing wheat stubble ground. Many producers were baling wheat stubble for hay. Cattle were in good condition. Recently cut hay fields benefitted from the showers.

SOUTH: Topsoil moisture was short to very short from hot and extremely dry weather. The potato harvest was finished. Peanut planting was completed, corn was in the dough stage, and most sorghum was headed. Sorghum harvesting began in some counties. In some counties no hay was produced due to drought conditions. Range and pasture forage conditions continued to decline, and heat indexes were taking a toll on available forage. Producers continued supplemental feeding of livestock.

SOUTH PLAINS: The region was visited by high temperatures and isolated thunderstorms. Rainfall ranged from a trace to 2 inches across most of the district with a few isolated areas in the southeastern portion of district receiving as much as 5 inches. Large hailstones and high winds accompanied the thunderstorms in many areas causing both crop and structural damage. A significant amount of crop acreage was completely lost or damaged due to the storms. Most of the destroyed cotton acreage will be replanted with alternative crops. The wheat harvest was from 75 percent to 80 percent complete. Some hail damage was also reported in wheat fields. Pastures and ranges were in poor to fair condition. Some supplemental feeding of livestock continued.

SOUTHEAST: Topsoil moisture was short, and forage growth slowed. Scattered showers held up hay baling in some areas. There were no reports of crop disease or insects damage, but Mexican rice borer moths were still being found in traps. Livestock fared well, but horseflies were becoming a problem.

SOUTHWEST: Most of the region remained dry, but scattered thunderstorms brought as much as 1 inch of rain in a few areas. Steady winds further lowered soil moisture. Ranchers were providing heavy supplemental feeding and reduced stocking rates. Dryland corn and sorghum yields were down, and most crops west of Interstate 35 have failed. Irrigated corn and sorghum were maturing and near the irrigation cutoff point. The sorghum harvest should begin in two to three weeks. Because of drought and heat stress during and after silking, corn growers were worried about aflatoxin contamination, though there have been no reports of the problem so far. Cantaloupes, watermelons and cotton were making good progress under heavy irrigation. The harvest of green beans, onions, cabbage and potatoes was complete. The planting of fall vegetable crops will begin in about 40 days.

WEST CENTRAL: Hot, dry, and windy conditions continued, with a few areas reporting scattered showers. Some areas saw hail and heavy rain damage to newly planted crops. The wheat harvest continued, and there was some hay baled. Cotton planting was under way. Range and pastures were rapidly declining. Stock tank levels continued to drop. Most livestock were in good condition. Irrigation of pecan orchards began.

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