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Texas crop, weather

Though avoiding using the 'D-word,' something much like a drought is ongoing throughout much of Texas, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service agents and specialists.

AgriLife Extension personnel reported record high temperatures and high winds were drying out soils and stressing crops and livestock in many Texas counties.

"Deaf Smith County is under the same weather pattern as in the past, hot and dry and windy!" said Rick Auckerman, AgriLife Extension agent for the Panhandle county. "Wheat yields will be down considerably from last year, just due to the lack of Mother Nature’s help."

"High winds, high temperatures above 100 degrees and no rain has hurt the corn and cotton,” said Brandon McGinty, AgriLife Extension agent in Gray County, east of Amarillo. "Some cotton has failed and is burning up due to temps and high winds."

"Cotton in irrigated fields is emerging well, but it is even struggling with lack of moisture," said Rebel Royall, AgriLife Extension agent in Glasscock County, east of Odessa.

"Extremely dry conditions this past week caused pastureland to start turning brown,"said Pasquale Swaner, AgriLife Extension agent in Falls County, near Waco. "Crops are starting to fail due to the lack of moisture."

"High winds are rapidly depleting soil moisture,” said Chris Schneider, AgriLife Extension agent in Johnson County, south of Fort Worth.

Schneider reported good wheat yields of 50 to 60 bushels per acre, however.

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

CENTRAL: Hot, dry, and windy conditions prevailed, causing forage and pastures to further deteriorate. Warm-season grasses looked stressed, and native grasses showed little growth. Corn silked. The wheat harvest was nearly completed with good yields.

COASTAL BEND: Record heat and drought continued to degrade crops in the southern part of the region. Crops and livestock were stressed. Crops fared better farther north,but also need rain. Pastures were greening up, but will quickly brown up without rain. Because of pastures and range conditions, producers continued to supplementally feed livestock.

EAST: High winds dried out topsoil. There was little or no rainfall, which allowed hay baling to continue. Cattle appeared in good condition. In Harrison County, orchard operators reported severe infestations of pecan phylloxera, an insect pest that causes large green galls on stems and nuts. In Nacogdoches County, ornamental and vegetable crops were troubled with insect and disease. In Tyler County, there were reports of blossom end-rot in tomatoes.

FAR WEST: The drought continued, with temperatures as high as 115 degrees. Pastures were dry, and wildfires were burning throughout the district. Fall-planted onions were bulbing, and wheat was nearly ready for harvest.

NORTH: Weather conditions were windy and dry. Temperatures in the mid-90s quickly dried out soils already low on moisture due to lack of rain. Soil moisture ranged from adequate to very short. The winter-wheat harvest was progressing well. Summer pastures were in good condition with producers cutting the first hay crop, though windy conditions hampered operations. Fuel cost was the big limiting factor for many hay harvesters taking the first cutting, and many were not fertilizing due to the high cost of nitrogen. Those producers who bit the bullet and fertilized reported near-normal fields. Those that did not fertilize had disappointing yields. Oats were 50 to 75 percent harvested. Soybeans, sorghum and cotton were all being planted. Corn was in good condition and beginning to tassel. Range and pasture were in good shape but could use moisture and some relief from the heat. Livestock were doing well.

ROLLING PLAINS: High winds and temperatures above 100 degrees dried out everything. What little cotton emerged didn’t look good. Farmers continued to plant, hoping for a decent rain before seeds dry out and the emerged plants die. Pastures are declining from low soil-moisture levels. Wildfires became more prevalent as pastures dried out. Livestock were still in good shape, but without rain things could change rapidly as forages decline. Dry conditions also caused hay yields to suffer. First cuttings were mostly 60 to 70 percent of average production, and the quality was lower due to poor growing conditions. Several counties did receive from 0.5 to 1 inch of rain. Wilbarger County, however, was hit with heavy rains and straight-line winds up to 80 mph. The storm damaged center pivots, homes and trees, and laid down unharvested wheat.

SOUTH: Short to very short soil moisture conditions and mild-hot temperatures forced irrigators to place corn, cotton and other crops under continuous irrigation. Crops in the mid-region progressed well, and early maturing grain sorghum harvesting began. Grain sorghum was turning color in the western part of the region. The cabbage harvest continued, and the onion harvest was completed. Watermelons have done well this week due to growing conditions. Lack of precipitation in the northern area continues to be a significant issue in all sectors of agriculture. Producers continued supplemental feeding of livestock. Winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour further aggravated the drought and raised the risk of wildfires.

SOUTH PLAINS: Windy weather prevailed, and temperatures exceeded 100 degrees for the first four days of June. The high winds continued to dry out soils and threatened to blow out or dry out emerging cotton stands. Soil moisture was very short to short. Cotton was in fair to good condition. Cotton in some counties had to be replanted because of hail or seedling disease. Most cotton and some sorghum under irrigation was being watered. Sorghum was in fair to good condition. In some parts of region, wheat harvest was underway. Pumpkin planting was complete with irrigation in full swing. Some corn was in fair to good condition; other fields were showing signs of stress where sufficient water cannot be applied fast enough. Pastures and ranges were in poor to fair condition. Cattle conditions were mostly good with some supplemental feeding of cattle continuing.

SOUTHEAST: Dry, windy conditions stressed crops. Some hay was cut, but little fertilizer was applied. A few isolated showers came, and rice was sprayed for insects. Rice borer moths continued to be found in traps; the counts varied from trap to trap each week. Livestock were in good condition, but as the temperatures continue to rise with no rain, pastures will soon limit cattle performance.

SOUTHWEST: The region remained completely dry. High temperatures and hard southerly winds contributed to the drought. The risk for roadside wildfires increased. Forage availability was below average. Ranchers were providing heavy supplementation. Corn, sorghum, spring vegetables, sunflowers, pecans, sod, grapes, cantaloupes, watermelons and cotton were all making good progress under irrigation. Corn was entering the soft-dough phase. Some irrigated small grains were being harvested. The cabbage, onion and pickling cucumber harvests continued. The potato harvest wound down.

WEST CENTRAL: Extremely hot, dry and windy conditions continued, depleting soil moisture. Temperatures broke long-standing records for this time of year. Burn bans were put in place. Cotton planting continued in some counties. Hay baling was under way . The oat and wheat harvests were in full swing with good yields. Water levels in stock tanks dropped. Range and pasture grasses were drying up, and growth has slowed, but livestock were still in good condition.

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