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Texas crop, weather

Most counties in the eastern half of the state received from a half-inch to slightly more than 1 inch of precipitation during the last week, according the National Weather Service.

Many counties in that region received as much 2 inches of moisture, with scattered reports of 3 to 4 inches.

Westwardly, some counties received from one-tenth of an inch or less of moisture, with Far West Texas and much of the Panhandle remaining dry.

Where moisture was received, it improved wheat and other small grain crops, and greened up winter pastures.

However, in nearly all counties, Texas AgriLife Extension Service agricultural and natural resource agents agree more moisture is needed to restore normal soil moisture levels to maintain current crops and prepare for spring planting.

"The county has received some moisture from rainfall and snow," said Josh Blanek AgriLife Extension agent for Somervell County in north central Texas."However more will be needed to fill tanks and creeks. With March being a windy month, topsoil moisture could dry out quickly."

"Heavy rains this week prevented field work throughout the county," said Doug Andrews AgriLife Extension agent for Dallas County. "Two snowfalls fell during the week which also provided much needed moisture for winter pastures."

"Area farmers are praying for a good rain," said Tommy Yeater, AgriLife Extension agent for Howard County, south of Lubbock."They are ready to prepare the seed bedding but need soil moisture. Area ranchers continue to prepare for grass fires. We need rain!"

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

CENTRAL: Recent rain and snow gave limited relief to dry conditions. Producers continued to supply feed and hay to livestock. Redbuds and peach trees that were in bloom may have been damaged by freezing temperatures. Producers began planting corn where fields were not too wet. Oats and wheat were doing well.

COASTAL BEND: The region received heavy rains with cooler temperatures. The rain halted most field activity, which mainly was the planting of corn and grain sorghum. Most crops were looking good in the northern portion of the reporting area where soil moisture was adequate. The southern portion of the reporting area needs additional rainfall. Pastures were greening up, but were challenged by light frosts. Feeding of hay to livestock continued.

EAST: Spring-like weather turned cold and wet toward the end of the week. Most counties received heavy rains and some snow. Vegetable crops were planted until inclement weather set in. In Nacogdoches County, there were reports of aphids on turnip greens and moisture stress damage to onions. Livestock were in fair to good condition and were beginning to graze on weeds and grasses. However, farmers continued to supply supplemental feed. Trees were beginning to bud, and fruit tree pruning began. In Trinity County, there were reports of feral hog damage in pastures, yards and golf courses.

FAR WEST: Most of the region did not receive precipitation. The exceptions were parts of Jeff Davis County, which received a half-inch of snow, and Reeves County, which saw seven-tenths of an inch of mixed rain and snow. Pecos County reported snow, sleet and rain but no accumulation. Winds as high as 50 mph visited some counties, and wildfires were reported in scattered areas of dry rangeland.

NORTH: Soil moisture was adequate to surplus. Rain and snow fell during the week. Four to 9 inches of snow fell in some counties. The moisture was expected to improve the wheat crop, benefit winter annual pastures and provide moisture for corn and soybean planting. Winter wheat was in fair to good condition. The wet weather prevented field work and delayed the corn planting which had just gotten under way in some areas. The season perennials were looking good. Cold rains and temperatures were hard on livestock, but cattle remained in fair to good condition. Producers continued to supply supplemental feed. The forage supply was stable, with winter pastures improving but many too wet to graze. Range and pasture conditions varied widely, from poor to fair to good.

PANHANDLE: Soil moisture ranged from adequate to very short, with most counties reporting short to very short. Wheat condition varied from good to very poor. Irrigated wheat was in good condition; dryland wheat needed moisture. Rangeland conditions varied from excellent to very poor, with most areas reporting poor. Fire danger remained high. Cattle were declining because of lack of grazing. Producers continued to supply supplemental feed.

ROLLING PLAINS: The counties in the south and east of the Rolling Plains received moisture in the form of both rain and snow. The wheat crop perked up with the moisture and mild temperatures. Hardeman County has missed the last couple of rains and needs moisture. Winter wheat broke dormancy and will soon need moisture to reach its full potential. Cotton producers began preparing for spring planting. Cattle producers were providing supplemental feed daily to maintain cattle until moisture is received to replenish pastures. Some winter wheat emerged and looked good, but without any measurable moisture it was not expected to last long. There were numerous grass fires; one caused by a stock trailer that had a blown-out tire. The metal rim made sparks on the pavement. At total of 125 acres burned, said Heath Lusty, AgriLife Extension agent in Jack County. "Anyone pulling a trailer needs to make sure that they have good tires with the proper air pressure," Lusty said.

SOUTH: Weather conditions were mild with no precipitation, and soil moisture conditions remained short to very short. Scattered showers were reported in the western parts of the region. However, windy conditions that come immediately afterward dried the soil, leaving inadequate soil moisture for dryland producers to plant. Corn and cotton planting continued in the mid-part of the region, as well as harvesting of sugarcane. Strong winds further dried out range and pastures, leaving livestock producers busy supplying supplemental feed.

SOUTH PLAINS: Temperatures dipped down in the 20s on several nights, sometimes accompanied by light-blowing snow. Soil moisture remained very short to short. Producers continued to prepare for spring planting. Producers were applying fertilizer and preparing fields for planting. Winter wheat was in poor condition. Pastures and ranges were in poor condition. Livestock were mostly in fair condition with supplemental feeding continuing because of cold weather.

SOUTHEAST: The recent rains aided clover and rye stands. Temperature variations stressed livestock and increased hay consumption. Corn planting increased in some counties until field operations were halted by rain. Soil temperatures remained too cold for grain sorghum planting. Hay feeding continued, but most producers are seeing their reserves running low. A few producers, however, still have a little hay for sale. Wheat fields showed some signs of disease. Livestock were doing well in spite of the wet weather.

SOUTHWEST: One-quarter to 1 inch of rain fell in parts of region, but most of the district remained dry. With the exception of a few counties, the last six months was the driest period on record with only about 1.3 inches of total rainfall, compared to a long-term average of about 10.3 inches for the same period. Farmers continued to heavily irrigate. Forage availability was below average. Ranchers were providing large amounts of supplemental feed. Some corn was planted under irrigation, but dryland farmers await rain. Harvesting of cabbage and spinach continued. Onions, carrots and early planted potatoes made good progress under heavy irrigation and warm weather.

WEST CENTRAL: Temperatures were much colder. Some areas reported moisture in the form of rain, snow and ice, which will help small grains and pastures. Wheat continued to be in poor condition. Cotton production continued; the crop has been outstanding. Spring crops were getting a slow start. Range and pastures were showing some green-up of winter grasses and forbs. Livestock remained in poor to fair condition, and producers continued to supply supplemental feed.

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