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Texas crop and weather

Rains fell this past week to the benefit of farmers and ranchers throughout the Lone Star State. While some damage from recent hail, tornados and flooding was reported, crops and livestock grazing generally got a welcome boost from these rains – and from warmer weather.

“We have received good rainfall recently; in fact, a little too good in some areas, which has led to flooding,” said Jose Pena, Texas Cooperative Extension economist for the Texas A&M System Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Uvalde. “But even with this rain, we are still down about 15 percent for the long-term average in this region for this time of the year.”

But corn, sorghum, cotton, potatoes and spring vegetables are all making good progress in southwestern Texas, Pena said, even though corn and sorghum seem to be progressing more slowly than usual.

Thanks to recent rains, corn, cotton and wheat crops throughout the state are developing well in their respective growing areas, according to Extension reports. In addition, cattle are in good condition, due in large measure to pasture and range areas continuing to “green up” after recent rains. Cool-season grasses and forages are doing well and hay production has increased, but many regions of the state still report a hay shortage.

The following are Extension reports for the past week:

PANHANDLE: Temperatures varied throughout the week and the region received light rains. Soil moisture is rated short to surplus with most areas reporting adequate. Drier conditions allowed corn planting to resume, but planting is behind with less than 15 percent of the crop planted. Wheat is rated poor to excellent with most areas reporting fair to good. Some field are showing moisture stress as the rapidly developing crop is utilizing about a quarter-inch of moisture per day. Infestations of Russian wheat aphid and bird cherry oat aphid are causing problems in some fields. Range condition varies from very poor to excellent with most areas reporting fair to good. Cattle are in fair to good condition.

SOUTH PLAINS: Temperatures have been in the upper 70s F to low 80s F. Recent rainfalls should help conditions for May planting. Soil moisture is adequate, and producers are making final planting preparations. Wheat that has not been baled is heading out. Corn planting has begun. Grapes and pecans are projected to have minimal yields. Pastures and ranges are in good condition. Cattle condition is mostly good, and supplemental feeding continues.

ROLLING PLAINS: Thanks to recent rains, the region’s wheat crop in excellent condition, although there were a few pockets of crop damage from hail a few weeks ago. Farmers are preparing for cotton and peanut planting. Both wheat hay and alfalfa hay are being cut and baled, some earlier than normal. Cattle are in excellent body condition, but flies are increasing. Cattle producers are vaccinating and branding fall-born calves. Pastures and rangeland conditions are in good shape.

NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from short to surplus. Heavy rains ranging from 1 inch to 6 inches fell across the region and many fields were saturated. Cool-season grasses and forges are doing well, and stock tanks are full of water. Corn and soybean crops are in fair to good condition with 100 percent of corn planted and almost all emerged. Ten percent to 100 percent of soybeans have been planted with more than half having emerged. The sorghum crop is in fair to good condition with up to 90 percent planted. Most of the cotton crop has been planted and is doing well. Wheat is looking good with almost all of it headed. An infestation of Hessian fly larvae has damaged some of the wheat. Livestock are in good condition and have more forage and water than they have had in two years. Sweet potato farmers are getting ready to transplant slips.

EAST: Thunderstorms moved through the region twice this week, leaving from 1 inch to 2.5 inches of rain. No crop damage from accompanying winds and lightning was reported, and no long-term crop damage reported as a result of near-freezing temperatures around Easter. Producers are cutting hay - primarily winter forages - in anticipation of drier conditions later in the year. Vegetable planting continues, as does forage harvest of cool-season annuals. Winter forage has made excellent growth, but is starting to slow with the warmer temperatures. Warm-season grasses are starting to grow after being set back by the last cold snap. Problems with insects and fruit trees have been reported; some cool-season weeds remain from the cooler April weather. Because fertilizer prices have increased, some producers are talking about cutting back on fertilization. Corn prices are very high at present, and many producers are worried.

FAR WEST: Soil moisture ranged from very short to adequate, and range and pasture conditions vary from very poor to excellent. High winds have caused plant damage and have further dried out the soil. The region is also seeing the extent of damage resulting from the Easter weekend freeze. There is more wheat damage is more in older fields; younger fields are faring better. Corn is in poor condition and winter wheat is in very poor to good condition. Oats are in fair to good condition. Pecan trees are leafing out, except in higher elevations. The first cut of alfalfa is complete and there are good tonnage results. After the third planting, melons are finally beginning to recover.

WEST CENTRAL: Daytime temperatures have been warm, and nights have been windy and cool. Rainfall was reported throughout the area. Some hail damage to wheat fields was reported. Small grains are heading out. Planted corn acres are up and fields appear to be in good shape. Annual weeds are a major problem this spring. Most producers are preparing for planting and spraying for weeds. Some milo has been planted. Producers are grazing out or cutting and baling freeze-damaged wheat or oats and are making hay. Range and pasture lands are in great condition and are showing good growth. Surface water stock tanks are in good shape. Cows are calving and goats are kidding. Pecan and peach orchard spraying is under way. Pecans are looking more promising than expected after the recent cold weather.

CENTRAL: Tanks are full and cattle are adding pounds. Corn has been replanted in some areas that received an overabundance of rain. Warm-season grasses are growing. Wheat is still looking very good with yield potential looking favorable. Some producers are fertilizing warm-season grasses and preparing to plant summer hay crops.

SOUTHEAST: Most areas of the region received rain ranging from about 1 inch to 3 inches. Ryegrass is headed and starting to mature and make hard seed. Most clovers are in full bloom. Bermudagrasses are not showing much growth. Planting has been delayed due to excessive moisture, and hay crops will to be late this year for the same reason. No insects or diseases affecting crops were reported. Livestock are doing well.

SOUTHWEST: Light to heavy rain fell in the region. Turbulent weather, especially a tornado in Eagle Pass, caused extensive property damage and some crop damage. Rains caused some flooding in the San Antonio area. While South Central Texas has received above-average rainfall for this time of year, overall rainfall is still down about 15 percent from the long-term average. Pastures and ranges are green and forage availability has improved. Corn, sorghum, cotton, potatoes and spring vegetables are progressing, but corn and sorghum appear to have been slowed by the cold weather in the past month. The cabbage harvest continues.

COASTAL BEND: The region had warm temperatures. Some areas received up to 2 inches of rain. Farmers were spraying weeds in cotton fields and cultivating grain sorghum. Wheat is maturing rapidly and cotton is beginning to grow as heat units accumulate. The corn crop looks excellent. Some hay fields are being cut and baled to clean off winter grass and weeds. Pastures remain in good shape, and cattle are in good to excellent condition.

SOUTH: Soil moisture conditions ranged from short to adequate in the middle of the region to short and very short in the western part. Cotton growth and development has been boosted thanks to warmer days and nights. Replanted cotton has emerged and is progressing well. Most counties have reported row crops are progressing well. Grain crops will need some moisture soon. Sorghum crops are in the boot stage and starting to head in some parts of the region. Spring onion harvest continues, as do citrus and sugarcane harvests. There are signs of drought stress on range pastures. Ranchers are turning to supplemental feeding again.

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