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Texas crop, weather

Rainfall was all over the Texas map, with the Southwest and Far West remaining dry. Parts of East and North Texas got drenched, while in other regions, rains were moderate, according to reports from Texas AgriLife Extension Service agents and administrators.

Where rain came, wheat and winter pastures got a boost. As a general rule, even where pastures are greening up, producers are still feeding hay but have been able to cut back some.

The big issue in corn-producing areas is the ever-narrowing window for planting corn. Wet weather has kept producers out of the fields in north Texas. Sorghum is an alternative for many if fields don't dry out until April.

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

CENTRAL: Most areas received good rainfall. Producers continued to supplement livestock with feed and hay. They were optimistic, however, about spring green-up improving grazing conditions. Trees were blooming. Wet ground hindered field work.

COASTAL BEND: Soil moisture was needed in southern areas. Heavy rains fell in the central areas, resulting in planting delays of a few days. Fields were drying and planting resumed. Planting was still on hold in coastal counties due to cooler weather. Sorghum and some cotton were delayed due to lack of rain in other counties. Producers continued to supplemented cattle with hay in some areas.

EAST: Thunderstorms brought wind and as much as 4 inches of rain. Some producers had to move cattle to higher ground because of flooding. Winter forages and clovers were really growing well, thanks to the rain and warmer temperatures. Perennial grasses were greening up. Supplemental feeding of cattle slowed but continued. Planting of pasture grasses is under way, but producers are concerned about rising costs of fertilizer.

FAR WEST: Extremely dry conditions were the rule. Val Verde County was the exception, with 1 to 6 inches of rain. High winds and wildfires were reported. One wildfire started in Terrell County and moved into Pecos County, burning 30,000 acres. Alfalfa was out of dormancy. Fall-planted onions started growing again. Chiles and melons were planted; grapes were breaking buds. Pecan orchards were being irrigated but the trees remained dormant. Some corn was planted.

NORTH: Soil moisture range was adequate to surplus. Several areas received from 4 to 6 inches of rain. There was rural flooding where creeks overflowed, causing some soil erosion. With the wet conditions, all farming activity, including planting and seedbed preparation, was at a standstill. Only an estimated 20 percent to 25 percent of corn has been planted. Pastures are beginning to wake up and are growing at a steady, but slow rate. Wheat improved but remained only in fair condition. Some producers opted not to fertilize wheat and that shows. Ryegrass and clovers were growing well. Livestock were in fair to good condition and sales were very strong. Supplemental feeding of livestock slowed some, but producers were still feeding some hay. Peach trees began blooming. Range and pasture conditions were fair.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were near average. Soil moisture was very short to adequate, with most areas reporting very short to short. Wheat was mostly very poor to poor. Range condition varied from very poor to fair with most reporting poor. Wildfire danger remained high. Cattle were in fair condition. Supplemental feeding continued.

ROLLING PLAINS: Rain came, with accumulations ranging from 0.80 to more than 4 inches. Winter wheat revived and pastures greened up overnight. Not only did the rain revive the wheat crop, it replenished the soil profile and partially filled up stock tanks that were either dry or nearly dry. Because of greener pastures, producers began cutting back on hay and supplemental feed. Some producers, however, were debating whether to harvest wheat, even though it's late, or graze it. Cotton farmers have begun preparing fields for this year’s crop; the rain has made their work easier. Even though most of the district received rain, emergency personnel are still worried about the wildfire threat. In Knox County, 40 steers were lost to wildfires. The district is under a burn ban until further notice.

SOUTH: All counties in this region have extremely short soil moisture conditions. Mid region has been hot with high winds and no precipitation. Crop conditions there were fair, and harvesting of sugarcane, citrus and vegetables continued. Spring-crop plantings were winding down. Strong winds damaged some crop stands, and the fire on the rangeland in the northern part of that area was assessed. Producers in the western part of the region hoped the added moisture will help their dryland sorghum germinate and salvage some of the dryland wheat. It was too soon, however, to tell how these crops, range and pastures have benefitted. Livestock producers reported some warm-season forage was becoming available thanks to the rain and warmer temperatures.

SOUTH PLAINS: Weather conditions were warm and windy most of the week, with cooler temperatures and light rains coming on Easter Sunday. Soil moisture remained very short to short. Preplant irrigation activity was prevalent, particularly in center-pivot and furrow-irrigated fields. Winter wheat remained in poor condition. Much of the wheat is now at first-joint stage and still needs moisture. Pastures and ranges were in poor condition in terms of both quality and quantity. Livestock were in fair to good condition with supplemental feeding continuing.

SOUTHEAST: A few showers and moderate temperatures resulted in cool-season annuals showing good growth. Some bermuda grass greened up, but there was little growth. Farmers were plowing fields and planting corn. Some sorghum was planted as well, but corn planting had the priority because of excessive soil moisture and low soil temperatures. Farmers wanted to limit risk of replanting grain sorghum by not planting too early. Grain sorghum planting is about 35 percent complete. Weather conditions were extremely windy with cool nights and daytime highs in the 70s. Pastures were slow to dry out; many were still saturated. Rice planting began on March 20, and 500 acres were planted. Wheat is looking good for the most part. Haying continued but was beginning to taper off. Grass continued to green up. Livestock were doing well. Some pastures were fertilized but not many due to the high fertilizer prices.

SOUTHWEST: About half of the region received rain, but conditions remained very dry. High, dry winds with gusts of over 30 mph were aggravating the drought and causing a higher number of roadside and field fires. Farmers continued to irrigate heavily. The soil profile remained very dry. Forage availability was below average. Ranchers provided heavy supplemental nutrition. Corn and sorghum were planted under irrigation. Planting under dryland conditions was delayed, except in those south central Texas counties that received some rain. Small-grain yields are expected to be down significantly over last year. The cabbage and spinach harvest continued. Onions, potatoes and carrots were making good progress under heavy irrigation.

WEST CENTRAL: Warmer temperatures came to the region this week along with isolated thunderstorms. The rain helped crops and pastures. Soil moisture improved, and small grain crops got a good boost. Stock tanks were replenished. Range and pastures were slowly greening up.

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