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Texas crop, weather report

COLLEGE STATION - While some residents may be complaining about weeks of cold temperatures and rain, Texas weather is still not cold enough in Greater Houston, according to Wayne Thompson, Texas Cooperative Extension agent for agriculture in Harris County.

"It's still not as cold as it should be for the middle of winter," he said. "We need to experience at least five consecutive days with a good, hard freeze. That would kill weed seeds, plant diseases and insects."

Weeks of continuous rain also make it difficult for cattle producers, Thompson said.

"If you have cows calving right now, they are calving in the mud," he said. "The calf mortality rate goes up when the rain goes on like this."

The following conditions were reported by Extension districts this week:

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were below average early in the week and then warmed up to near normal by week's end. Field preparations for cotton harvests are on hold as producers wait for the snow to melt. Soil moisture is rated adequate to surplus. However, gins continue to be active. Wheat is rated mostly fair to good. Range conditions are rated from very poor to good with most areas reporting fair to good. Cattle are in fair to good condition, although wet conditions and cold temperatures are causing stress. Supplemental feeding continues.

SOUTH PLAINS: Soil moisture is adequate. Weather remained cold with highs from the 40s F to low 50s F and lows in the 20s F. Cooler temperatures kept fields wet from previous weeks' rain. Wheat is in fair to good condition and has responded well to the rain. Pastures and ranges are in fair to good condition. Cattle are in good condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: Slow rain, ice and snow put plenty of water back into the ground across the region. Weather conditions have delayed field work for spring crops. Winter wheat prospects for grain are good, although grazing prospects are below average. Cotton harvest is close to completion in most counties. Livestock producers have increased supplemental feeding. Livestock body condition has declined during the extended cold weather. Winter wheat will be good if the moisture continues. Greenbug numbers appear to be under control in most fields as wheat is able to outgrow the aphid damage.

NORTH: Soil moisture ranges from adequate to surplus. Top soil moisture is good, but many tanks still need runoff water. With the continuous rain during the past month, soil moisture is returning to normal. About 95 percent of the ponds are back to normal. Pecans are all harvested. All of the winter wheat is emerged and in good condition. The prospects of a good wheat crop are excellent. Ryegrass condition is good. Small grains and winter annual pasture conditions are good. Field conditions have improved over this time last year, and adequate subsoil moisture should be available for planting row crops this spring. Livestock are in fair condition. Cows are thin in spite of supplemental feeding, and hay is extremely short. Warmer temperatures are needed for winter pastures to grow. Range and pasture conditions are mostly fair to good with some reported in poor condition.

EAST: Cold, damp weather prevails. Cool-season forages are growing well. Most counties reported heavy supplemental feeding of hay. Hay supplies are running low, and some producers are completely out. Producers with surplus hay are charging high prices, more than twice their production costs. Calving season has begun, and cattle are holding up well. Market prices were off more than expected, perhaps because of corn prices. Henderson County reported problems with lice in some cattle herds.

FAR WEST: Soil moisture ranges from very short to adequate, and crops and pastures are in very poor to good condition. Winter wheat ranges from very poor to excellent condition. Oats are in poor to good condition. Supplemental feeding continues. Colder temperatures prevailed this week with some snow accumulations reported in Brewster, Presidio, Reeves and Winkler counties.

WEST CENTRAL: Cool daytime temperatures, freezing overnight temperatures and scattered showers were reported in many areas. Small grains have improved with recent rain. Some field preparation for hay-crop planting began in fields that have dried out. Most fields were still too wet for activity. The rains improved forage and winter grasses on range and pastures. Livestock were reported in poor to fair condition. Supplemental feeding continues. Stock tanks are very low to dry, and run-off is needed in all areas.

CENTRAL: Recent rains have helped the small grains and winter grasses. However, the cold temperatures have increased supplemental feeding, and hay supplies are scarce. Many tanks still need runoff.

SOUTHEAST: Most areas of the region received 2 inches or more of rain this week. Overcast, cold conditions have slowed winter annuals. Soil is saturated.

SOUTHWEST: While the region received much-needed and above-average amounts of rainfall this month, last year was the driest year on record with only slightly more than 7 inches of rain. January's 2.6 inches of rainfall are the first significant rainfall since mid-October. While the slow rain was captured into the soil, the profile remains relatively dry. The recent rainfall will make possible spring planting and grass production. The rain and cold weather stopped vegetable harvesting. Cabbage, spinach and carrot harvests will resume when fields dry.

COASTAL BEND: Cold weather with rainfall of 2 to 3 inches in most areas helped the region recover from drought conditions. Stock tanks began filling, and soil moisture levels were returning to normal. Most fields are in good condition. Supplemental feeding continued; however, excessive mud in pastures made hay distribution difficult.

SOUTH: Soil moisture conditions ranged from short to adequate. The weather was cold and wet throughout the entire region. Rainfall ranged from very light to more than 2 inches of slow, constant rain. Citrus, vegetable and sugarcane harvests continued in spite of light rain. Rainfall halted all fieldwork in some parts of the region. Planting of corn has been delayed until warmer temperatures return. Livestock producers continued supplemental feeding.

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