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Texas crop, weather

Some moisture fell over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend across the state, but more is needed for pastures and wheat crops and to abate the threat of wildfires, according to Texas Cooperative Extension reports from around the state.

From far West Texas to the Panhandle and Rolling Plains, the wildfire danger is still high, said Extension officials.

The limited moisture also is causing havoc with the wheat crop, which in many places is considered worse than normal, said Dr. Brent Bean, Extension agronomist in Amarillo.

“The bottom line is it is dry,” Bean said. “We’re certainly not off to the great start we had last year.”

With spotty stands or stands that haven’t emerged in dryland fields, he said grazing will be lacking this winter.

“But there’s still plenty of time to make a wheat crop,” Bean said. “Wheat is made in the spring.”

The following condition reports are from Extension officials:

CENTRAL: Moisture is short to adequate. Rain received over the weekend will encourage some small grain planting. Winter wheat and oats are behind schedule due to limited moisture. The pecan harvest is near completion. Yields have been good, but the overall quality is less than expected. A late-season drought and early diseases have taken a toll on much of the crop. Supplemental feeding of cattle is in full swing.

COASTAL BEND: Below-normal temperatures occurred late in the week with some light rainfall. Very little tillage is occurring on cropland due to the high cost of fuel. Spot treatments with herbicide spray are being employed to control weeds and volunteer plants. The quality of permanent pastures is declining due to dry weather and frost in the northern portion of the reporting area. Cattle are in good to average condition.

EAST: A cold front moved into East Texas, dropping temperatures into the 30s F. Up to 4 inches of slow, steady rain fell, bringing much needed relief to winter pastures. Winter feeding of hay is increasing. Cattle markets remain steady; however, prices for light weight and unthrifty calves are weaker. The pecan harvest is very good in Henderson County. Rainfall has increased water levels in local ponds and streams, and has also helped alleviate the threat of wildfires.

FAR WEST: Soil moisture ranges from very short to adequate. Range and pastures are in very poor to good condition. Peanuts, sorghum and sunflowers have been harvested. Cotton bolls are 85 percent opened and 40-90 percent harvested. Winter wheat is in very poor to good condition, with 80 percent planted and 40 percent emerged. Oats are in fair to good condition, with 80 percent planted and 50 percent emerged. Mild temperatures were reported with cooler nights. Snow, rain and ice stopped cotton harvesting. Accumulations of 3-4.5 inches were reported in Glasscock and Ward counties. More moisture is needed for rangeland and wheat. A hard freeze is needed for pecan harvest. The fire potential remains high in range areas.

NORTH: The soil moisture range is short to adequate. The weather has been warm and dry, but a cool front, dropping temperatures into the 30s and 40s F, came in over Thanksgiving and brought much needed moisture to winter annuals. Winter pastures should start doing well. Sorghum and cotton harvests are complete. Oats and winter wheat are planted, and wheat is 40-90 percent emerged and in fair condition. The winter wheat and oats are behind schedule due to limited moisture. Hessian flies have become established in early planted wheat. The cattle market was slightly higher on good calves. Small grains and pastures need moisture. Range and pastures are in fair to poor condition.

PANHANDLE: Soil moisture ranges from very short to adequate with most areas reporting short. Cotton ranges from very poor to excellent with most areas reporting good. Cotton and sorghum harvests continue. Wheat ranges from very poor to excellent with most areas reporting fair. Some wheat remains to be planted. Range conditions are rated mostly fair. There is still a high danger for wildfires. Cattle are in good condition. Supplemental feeding is under way.

ROLLING PLAINS: Dry conditions continue to linger. Up to 4 inches of rain, sleet and snow fell over the weekend. This should help to finally get the dry-sown wheat crop growing. Most counties are still in desperate need for a good rain shower to assist the wheat in growing before winter. Insect and disease pressure is almost non-existent at this time. Grazing for cattle, especially for stockers brought in for wheat pasture, is scarce at best. Hay is still plentiful, but the quality is low. Livestock are receiving supplemental feed. The pecan harvest is in full swing. With an abundance of fuel sources and warm dry weather, there is a great risk of wildfire. Childress County is under a fire ban.

SOUTH: Colder temperatures in most parts of the region provided better growing conditions for spinach and cabbage crops, which were already in critical stages. Dryland producers are waiting for some kind of precipitation to get wheat, oats and rye germinated and growing. Above-average temperatures and dry conditions have not done much to stimulate growth of cool-season plants in native range and pastures. In the middle parts of the region, harvesting of citrus and vegetables continues. Supplemental feeding of livestock has increased.

SOUTH PLAINS: A winter blast gripped the South Plains during the Thanksgiving weekend with a high of 32 F and low of 25 F on Nov. 22. Snowfall ranged from a trace to 10 inches. The cold weather and moisture halted harvesting operations; however, a hard freeze dried down the remaining cotton that had not been defoliated. Grain sorghum harvest is near completion. Winter wheat is in fair condition. Pastures and ranges are in fair condition. The moisture will help with cool season grasses a little, but additional moisture will be needed soon. Cattle are in good condition. Supplemental feeding increased with cold wet weather.

SOUTHEAST: Rains over the holiday weekend provided much-needed moisture to winter annuals. Most fields have emerged and growth should start soon. There were no reports of insect or disease damage. About 1 inch of rain fell in some areas. This will help the ryegrass that was planted earlier. The wheat looks good in general. Some is better than the rest. Hay feeding has begun. Some of the producers are short of hay as the feeding period begins. Some ratoon rice is still left for harvest.

SOUTHWEST: About four-tenths of an inch of much-needed rainfall came after three dry months. The last economically significant rainfall was in early September. Most of southwest Texas has entered winter with less than 40 percent of the long-term, August-to-date rainfall. The soil profile is very dry. Pastures, ranges and yard grasses have gone into winter dormancy early as a result of drought stress. Farmers are heavily irrigating fall crops. The cotton harvest is complete, but about 20 percent of this year’s bumper crop remains to be ginned. The peanut, cabbage and spinach harvests continue.

WEST CENTRAL: The first freeze of the season came. Rain was reported in many areas. All counties are in need of moisture. Burn bans have been put in place. The cotton harvest continues with good yields and grades. Field preparation for fall planting continues. Fall season plants and crops are suffering from drastic temperature changes and lack of moisture. Sorghum crops are doing very well in some areas. Range and pastures continue to decline. Supplemental feeding is increasing. Livestock remain in fair to good condition. Pecan harvest continues.

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