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Texas crop and weather report

Rain is needed across Texas, according to reports by Texas Cooperative Extension officials.

High winds and warming temperatures are beginning to dry things out, and as many producers start spring planting, they are in need of more moisture, the Extension agents reported. The dry conditions also are raising concerns of fire danger.

Here are reports from Extension districts around the state:

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were above average early in the week and below normal by week's end. No precipitation was received. High winds over several days dried the soil surface, causing soil erosion and increasing fire danger. Land preparation continues for spring planting. Soil moisture is rated short to surplus with most areas reporting adequate. Wheat is rated mostly fair to good. The warm temperatures and adequate moisture provided good growth on wheat. Range conditions vary from very poor to excellent with most areas reporting fair. Cattle are in fair to good condition. Lice continue to be a problem in some herds. Supplemental feeding continues.

SOUTH PLAINS: Soil moisture is adequate. Mild temperatures occurred throughout the week. Winds were strong all week with gusts peaking from 25 to 45 mph, which depleted moisture and eroded soil in fields. Field preparation for crops continued. Winter wheat is in fair to good condition and is improving with warmer temperatures. Pastures and ranges are in fair condition. Cattle are in good condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: High winds dried top moisture throughout the area. Dust storms burned wheat and new alfalfa meadows, and blew out some small wheat fields. Barbed wire fences were blown over and electric fences torn down due to tumbleweeds and wind; some barns and structures were destroyed. Producers have been top dressing wheat. Rain is needed; however, sub-moisture seems to be good. Winter wheat continues to grow. Spring crop field preparation is beginning. Farmers are in sticker shock as liquid fertilizer is approaching $300 per ton and dry is close to $450 per ton. Garden plots are being tilled, and early crops will be set out soon. Spring lambing, calving and foaling are in full swing. Some counties are still in drought with range conditions that are very dry and shallow surface tank water that is low to dry. Spring branding and supplemental feeding continues. Livestock are thin to fair, with animals not treated for lice beginning to suffer. Peach trees are in tight bud to pink bud stage, with just a few blooms starting to show up.

NORTH: Soil moisture is short to adequate. Temperatures have been unseasonably warm, and no rain has fallen, leaving moisture in short supply. Farmers are preparing fields for planting. Corn is from 1 percent to 50 percent planted. Corn planting has started, others are waiting on adequate moisture. A few farmers will plant milo behind the wheat. Winter wheat is in good condition, but wheat and winter pastures need rain. Livestock are in fair condition. The cattle market is active on calves. Hay supplies are still short. Producers are acquiring soil test kits for pastures and hay meadows. Range and pastures are in fair condition. Green-up has started on summer grasses. Winter pastures are holding and rye grass looks good, but rain and sunshine are needed. Sweet potato growers are getting ready.

EAST: Ryegrass and legumes are benefitting from warmer temperatures. Producers continue to feed hay where supplies are available. Cattle prices were steady to higher, but the calf market was $1 to $2 per hundredweight cheaper. Producers are sprigging coastal bermudagrass and other hybrids. Some vegetable planting is in full swing. Rain has fallen in some areas. Cattle are in good body condition; winter pastures have made excellent growth and are being top-dressed. Winter forage grazing is in full swing. Calving season continues. Stock water supplies are good. Low humidity has caused some fires to break out. Fruit growers hope for rains and worry about a late frost.

FAR WEST: Soil moisture ranges from very short to surplus, and crops and pastures are in very poor to good condition. Winter wheat is in very poor to good condition. Oats are in fair to good condition. No moisture was reported. Strong winds blew, with gusts up to 70 mph. In the lower elevations, many of the warm grasses, ash trees and some brush species are turning green.

WEST CENTRAL: Mild daytime temperatures with cold nights continued this week. Extremely high winds damaged some crops and buildings and dried out soil moisture. No rainfall was reported. Small grains showed little growth due to lack of moisture. Producers are preparing fields for milo and sudan crops, and are applying fertilizer to improved pastures in preparation for spring rains. Planting has been put off because of a lack moisture. Range and pastures are showing some growth of winter grasses and forbs, but rain is needed. Livestock remain in fair condition. Supplemental feeding continues. Stock tanks remain dry. Spraying of pecan trees with dormant oil is underway.

CENTRAL: Top soil moisture is decreasing with the lack of rainfall and the warmer, windy days. More rain is needed to help small grains and winter grasses. Supplemental feeding of livestock continues with hay in very short supply. Corn and sorghum planting are in full swing. Stock ponds and tanks are low.

SOUTHEAST: Spring-like weather occurred this week. The area around Orange is beginning to dry out. Warmer weather is really helping the cattle and the hay meadows.

SOUTHWEST: Only a trace amount of rain fell in February; no measurable rain has fallen since Jan. 24. While the region received about 2.63 inches of rain during early January, the last 22-month period was the driest on record with only 19.7 inches of total rainfall, compared to a long-term average of more than 50 inches. Forage availability improved because of the January rain, but winter grasses are showing some stress. Corn, sorghum and potato planting are about complete. Spinach, cabbage and potatoes are making good progress under wavy irrigation. Rain is needed to sustain corn and sorghum planted under dryland conditions. Cabbage, spinach and some carrot harvests continue. Good spinach quality and yields were reported.

COASTAL BEND: Above-normal temperatures and no rain were reported. Corn planting continues, as does field preparation for grain sorghum, cotton, rice and soybeans. Soil moisture is marginal, and some producers are waiting for rain before planting. Ranges and pastures are in fair condition, but show some dry weather stress. Rain is needed.

SOUTH: Soil moisture is short to adequate with no rainfall reported. Land preparation continues for spring planting. Row-crop planting is active. Sugarcane, citrus and vegetable harvests continue. Preparation for the onion harvest is beginning. Ranchers are culling their cattle lightly, trying to rebuild their herds. Pasture conditions are fair to poor.

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