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Texas crop, weather

Much of West Texas and the Panhandle received rain, but the drought isn't officially over, said Dr. Billy Warrick, Texas AgriLife Extension Service agronomist based in San Angelo.

"For this part of Texas, the statement generally is that the rainfall just interrupted the constant drought," said Warrick, whose responsibilities range from Brownwood to El Paso.

The cotton under irrigation looks very good, though it's late, Warrick said. Dryland cotton in his region had mostly failed, but with the rain, producers are trying to take advantage of a narrow window of opportunity and replant. The rain also brought up a lot of volunteer cotton, which will have to be dealt with before replanting can continue, he noted.

"I did make a Fourth-of-July run up to Hereford and through Lubbock, Big Spring and Lamesa, and you're looking at a lot of cotton country there," he said. "For the most part, I did not see any cotton that was as far along as I was expecting. Overall, I'd say we're two weeks behind."

It will be September before anyone can give an accurate yield prediction of this year's crop, Warrick said.

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

CENTRAL: Soil moisture levels throughout the district were short to very short. Conditions were hot and dry. Temperatures in the upper 90s and winds exacerbated the drought stress on forages. Grasses slowed down or quit growing altogether. Stock tank levels dropped, and hay yields were low. Crops that once looked promising now look disappointing.

COASTAL BEND: Much of the region received rain, slowing the harvesting of grain crops. Cotton bolls began to open. In the western part of the district, livestock still required supplemental feeding.

EAST: Two inches of rain came, bringing relief to some dry counties. Others remained dry. Winds dried topsoil, and pastures began to show stress where no rain was received. Hay harvesting continued but decreased fertilization lowered qualities and quantity. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Vegetable production continued, but temperatures in the 90s slowed production. Insects and disease damage were reported on vegetables, as well as fruit-set problems because of high temperatures. Feral hogs continued to be active in Trinity County.

FAR WEST: Rain fell throughout the district with accumulations of 0.2 to 6 inches, prompting farmers to plant grain sorghum on failed dryland cotton fields. Corn, cotton and winter wheat were in fair to good condition. Cotton was squaring with good development. The third cutting of alfalfa was completed. Fall-planted onions were in the intermediate bulb stage. Pecan-nut development was good, though the second generation of pecan-nut case bearer emerged. Chiles bloomed with good development. Shrimp were on track for an October harvest.

NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from adequate to short, which was about as good as can be expected for early July. Highs were in the mid-90s with high humidity. Some areas received a little rain, keeping soil moisture at fair levels and helping crops. Corn silked and appeared in good condition. Soybeans, cotton and sorghum were also in good condition. The winter wheat and oat harvests were completed. For much of the region, the warm, dry weather allowed hay harvests to continue. Most forage producers made a second cutting of hay. Cattle were in good condition. Peach trees looked good with no diseases reported. Range and pastures were in good condition.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were near normal. Soil moisture varied from adequate to very short. Corn was rated mostly fair with some tasseling reported. Cotton was rated mostly fair to poor, with some squaring Peanuts were pegging and mostly fair. Sorghum planting was about wrapped up. The crop was rated mostly fair. Soybeans were rated mostly fair. Wheat was rated poor to fair. Some wheat still being harvested. Range conditions varied from very poor to excellent with most reporting poor to fair. Cattle were rated in good condition. Horn flies were pestering animals.

ROLLING PLAINS: Dry conditions and hot temperatures continued to parch hay fields and pastures throughout most of the region. Corn fields have dried up and may not be harvested. Hay yields continued to be below expectations. If conditions don't improve soon, last year’s hay inventory will soon become a hot commodity. Fall armyworm was detected in milo and haygrazer fields. Irrigated cotton was looking pretty good and starting to put on squares. Many farmers say dryland cotton was at least two rains behind. Hot and windy days continued to dry out soils. Farmers were plowing and spraying weeds in cotton. Sorghum under irrigation has headed. Most dryland sorghum was not expected to be harvested. Stock tanks were getting low. Most cattle were in good condition, but producers will have to cull herds soon if they do not get rain.

SOUTH: Light, scattered showers put a halt to sorghum harvesting and other field activities such as watermelon and corn harvesting, but raised soil moisture levels. Corn matured early as a result of earlier dry conditions, and some corn fields were expected to be harvested within a week. Cotton progressed well with little insect pressures. Native range and pastures forages were limited, but supplemental feeding has kept livestock in fair condition.

SOUTH PLAINS: Soil moisture was short to adequate. Weather conditions were ideal for replanting crops previously lost to hail. Other field operations included weed management and preparation for irrigation and fertilization. Weeds were a problem in many fields after all the wet weather. The wheat harvest was nearly complete. Cotton was in fair to good condition, ranging from near squaring to early bloom. Grain sorghum was in fair to good condition, ranging from planted to boot stage. Pumpkins progressed well. Producers were busy irrigating and applying fungicides. Corn was in fair to good condition. Pastures and ranges were in poor to fair condition. Cattle were mostly in fair to good condition, with supplemental feeding continuing.

SOUTHWEST: From 0.6-1.1 inches of rain fell the first week of July, but the region remained very dry. It was the driest June on record. Year-to-date cumulative rainfall remained at about 74 percent below the long-term average for the same period. Cotton and peanuts continued to make good progress under heavy irrigation. Corn and sorghum were drying down. The onion harvest was complete. The watermelon and cantaloupe harvest was in full swing.

WEST CENTRAL: Very hot, dry conditions continued throughout the week in most areas. A few areas reported much needed rainfall. Fieldwork continued. The first cuttings of hay have been light. Range and pastures continued to decline except in areas that have received some moisture. Livestock remained in fair to good condition.

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