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Texas crop, weather

Much of Texas received rain the last week, from one-tenth to nearly 6 inches, reported Texas AgriLife Extension Service agents from across the state.

The rain was a mixed blessing. In some areas it was much needed, improving pastures and rangelands and raising soil moisture levels high enough to allow for cotton planting.rnBut in areas that were wet already, it prevented hay harvest or row-crop planting.

"Recent rains have really helped the native pastures and improved grasses," said Langdon Reagan, AgriLife Extension agent based in Vernon for Wilbarger County. "Hay cuttings have been successful but producers are worried about fertilizer and diesel costs."

"Weekly rains are good for summer forage production, but we could use a break so fields dry out to allow wheat and oats to be harvested," said Lee Dudley, AgriLife Extension agent in Limestone County, east of Waco.

"We received 6 inches of rainfall in two days this week," said Randy Reeves, AgriLife Extension agent based in Marshal for Harrison County. "The ground is saturated. Our major concern is fertilizer or lack of applications due to high cost. I talked with a local fertilizer dealer; application rates have dropped 60 percent over previous years."rn rn The following summaries were compiled by Texas AgriLife district reporters this week:

COASTAL BEND: Light rain helped crop and pasture conditions in some counties, but more is needed to sustain the crops and vegetation. Some crops were still stressed by dry conditions. Livestock producers have slowed supplemental feeding in some counties, but in others forage was still limited and feeding continued.

EAST: All counties reported rain, with some getting as much as 6 inches. In drier areas, the rainfall was welcome; in areas already wet, saturated soils hampered field work. In areas receiving heavy rains, reports of disease problems in vegetables were on the rise. Pastures made progress. Producers who received rain earlier were cutting warm-season pastures for hay, while those in drier counties were just beginning to apply fertilizer. Many producers were not fertilizing at all due to high costs. Fertilizer applications have dropped as much as 70 percent. Cattle were in good to excellent condition. Spring calving and calf working continued. Fall calves were weaned and marketed. Feral hog damage continued. Squash, greens, onions and other vegetables were being harvested.

FAR WEST: Producers made the first cutting of alfalfa hay and were irrigating. Fall-planted onions began producing bulbs. Winter wheat headed, and producers applied the last irrigation. Widely scattered showers with accumulations of only 0.2 to 0.4 inch were accompanied by high winds, further drying out soils and fueling wildfires. Burn bans were still in effect, and wildfires burned more than 100,000 acres.

NORTH: Weather conditions were mild and cool with some scattered showers and storms. Soil moisture was adequate. Conditions were excellent for plant growth and most crops were doing well, though the cool nights slowed summer forage growth. Haying season began. Pastures and early season hay looked good; high yields are expected. Some counties had excessive rains and wind damage which hampered some early hay harvests. Most of winter wheat and oats have been harvested for hay, but yields were reduced. All corn emerged and looked good. Planting of grain sorghum and soybeans was completed, and most stands have emerged. Wheat fields looked good, with the crop headed and beginning to turn color; harvesting will begin soon, weather permitting. Rust was an issue for wheat farmers, but the wheat was too mature to correct the problem. High fertilizer prices kept a large number of producers from fertilizing. Livestock were in good to fair condition. The fly population increased, and so did feral hog activity.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were near normal most of the week. The southern part of the region received from a trace to 1 inch of rain; the northern area received none. Soil moisture ranged from surplus to very short with most areas reporting short. Corn was about 85 percent planted with stands rated fair to good. Cool soil temperatures have limited cotton planting. Producers continued to plant peanuts, sorghum and soybeans. Most irrigated wheat was in fair to good condition; most dryland wheat was in poor condition. Where rain was received, range conditions began to improve, with ratings from excellent to very short, with most reporting fair to short. Condition of cattle was fair to good.

ROLLING PLAINS: Over the past couple of weeks, many counties in the region received from 4 to 5.5 inches of rain. The rain replenished soil moisture, pastures and stock water, and with the increased forage, condition of livestock improved too. Winter wheat improved somewhat, but only a few producers will harvest the wheat for grain, however. Because of the dry winter and lack of forage, most of winter wheat was used for grazing. Cotton producers finished preparing fields for planting. Moisture levels in fields ranged from adequate to surplus. Producers must now wait on fields to dry out before planting. Bermuda grass pastures were growing fast, but so were weeds. Many producers focused more on weed management than fertilizer this year due to high fertilizer costs, so hay yields will be down.

SOUTH: Some light rain came to parts of the region, but soil moisture levels remained short to very short. Corn, soybeans, sorghum and cotton crops progressed in mid-region. Onion harvesting slowed. In the western parts of the region, melon harvesting continued, and the grain crop is turning color. All of the sorghum crop in the northern parts of the region has been planted, and range and pasture conditions were fair, giving livestock some lush forage – at least for short term.

SOUTH PLAINS: Much needed moisture came again, ranging from 0.5 to 5 inches. Temperatures were cool, with highs in the mid-60s. Soil moisture was short to adequate. The rain and cool temperatures delayed planting. Corn was in good condition and starting to emerge. Peanut planting was under way. Winter wheat was in poor to fair condition. Wheat was in the dough stage and began to turn color. Pastures and ranges were in poor-to-fair condition. Native pastures improved where there was rain. Cattle were in good condition, and livestock producers continued to give them supplemental feed.

SOUTHEAST: Rain promoted pasture growth but hampered hay harvesting. Producers have substantially reduced fertilizer applications.

SOUTHWEST: As much as 2 inches of rain came. Cool weather following the rain helped make full use of the moisture. Despite the rain, the last nine months remain the driest on record. Forage availability remained below average. Deer were browsing in irrigated fields and home landscapes. Incidences of deer being killed by cars and trucks as they grazed roadsides continued. Corn, sorghum, spring vegetables, sunflowers, pecans, sod, grapes, cantaloupes, watermelons and cotton made good progress under irrigation. Some small-grain fields, previously under irrigation, were harvested. In general, dryland small grains failed due to the drought. The cabbage harvest slowed while the potato, onion and pickling cucumber harvests picked up speed.

WEST CENTRAL: Many counties received from 1.25 inches up to 4 inches of rain, which will allow dryland cotton planting to begin soon. Cotton planting already began on irrigated fields. Most small grains were baled as hay or grazed out. Corn was in good condition. Range and pastures in most areas showed some signs of improvement and growth because of recent rains. Livestock were in fair-to-good condition with little supplemental feeding taking place.

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