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Serving: East

Texas crops continue suffering in little rainfall

In a word, ‘dismal’ would describe much of the state as high temperatures continued to suck soil and water supplies dry, according to Texas Cooperative Extension reports.

A band labeled “severe” or “extreme” curves in a north-south pattern from the Panhandle to the southern tip of Texas on the most recent drought map from, prepared by the Texas Water Development Board. Only 13 counties along the upper Texas coast are showing slightly wet on that map, with a mere 1-inch excess over normal amounts. Most of the state is suffering a 2- to 4-inch deficit, the water board said.

Far West Texas was labeled “moderate drought,” as of Tuesday, based on figures from the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Even an uncommonly large amount of rainfall in the El Paso area – as much as 15 inches - earlier this month did not bring the region to normal.

“Fields were fully saturated with some water standing in cotton furrows and pecan orchards,” said Brenda Rue, district Extension administrator in Fort Stockton. “The river stream came up from the base filling up the levies.”

Though the rainfall was beneficial for crops, Extension officials said, more is needed - over an extended period of time - to bring the region out of the dry spell.

Drought is the leading hazard in economic losses each year in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of the Chief Economist.

Extension offers Texas producers a variety of online decision tools at

Area reports from Extension follow:

SOUTH PLAINS: Hot conditions remained though humidity was higher than normal. Scattered showers left up to 1 inch of rain, but soil moisture still is short to very short. Irrigated cotton is in fair condition.

Dryland cotton acreage is blooming but with very low yield potential. Corn is in good condition. Peanuts are in fair to good condition with continued irrigation. Sorghum is in poor to fair condition. Pastures and ranges are in poor to very poor condition. Cattle are in fair to good with some supplemental feeding.

ROLLING PLAINS: Conditions continue to worsen. Daytime temperatures have climbed up to 108 F. Producers have begun to sell livestock in large numbers because of very poor pasture conditions, lack of drinking water and the high cost of hay. Landowners who depend on wildlife income are concerned about quail populations and declining forage availability for deer.

NORTH: Extreme drought conditions and high temperatures persist. Livestock water is critically low on many ranches, and pastures have no grass for grazing. Most cattle producers are deeply culling. Failed corn, milo and soybean fields are being baled for hay. Most of the cotton crop has declined to poor or very poor. Sweet potato crops look dismal. Most producers of grain sorghum are combining what crop they have and baling the stalks.

EAST: Drought took a toll on the forage and hay crop. Producers are either taking cattle to sale barns or providing supplemental feed and or hay. Creeks are drying up or dwindling to a trickle. A late-July rainfall in some parts, however, provided some growth in forages. Hay harvests are yielding from low to near-normal amounts.

FAR WEST: Soil moisture ranges from very short to adequate. Range and pastures are in very poor to good condition and improving with recent rainfall. Cotton ranges from very poor to good. Sorghum is in fair condition. Widely scattered showers left up to 1.2 inches of moisture in some areas, but El Paso received heavy rainfall causing the Rio Grande to flood. Precipitation ranged from 8 to 15 inches in the farming areas around El Paso.

WEST CENTRAL: Hot and dry weather continues. All crops are suffering. Most hay production has come to a standstill with well below normal yields. Some field preparations for fall planting have begun. Some corn was harvested as green chop/silage. Irrigated cotton continues to do well. Rangeland and pastures continue to deteriorate. Livestock producers are culling herds and selling off stock. Stock tanks are very low. Very little pecan production is expected this year.

CENTRAL: Range conditions are declining rapidly. Producers are supplementally feeding or selling livestock. Stock tanks are running low or already dry. Trees are showing signs of stress, and some are dying. Corn and grain sorghum harvest is nearing completion. Yields vary widely.

SOUTHEAST: Showers provided for some good hay growth. Soybeans were harvested in some areas, but fields elsewhere may not make a crop. Hay production is busy with the baling of the second or third cutting, thanks to early July rains. Old cows and calves are being brought to the market sooner than normal due to the dry conditions. The watermelon harvest is complete except a few small fields. The pecan crop will be very light.

SOUTHWEST: High winds created heavy sandstorms from San Antonio west, but spotty rain showers helped settle the dust. Much of the region still is almost completely dry. Daily temperatures in the high 90s F, accompanied by high wind, are aggravating the drought. Pastures and ranges are brown or bare. Some trees are starting to die. Yields from irrigated corn and sorghum harvests were disappointing. Production from dryland fields was down 70 percent to 80 percent. Cotton and peanuts are making good progress under heavy irrigation.

COASTAL BEND: Near-normal temperatures with some scattered showers eased crop conditions, but most areas are still in drought. Grain, cotton and some soybeans have been harvested. Producers are cutting hay as it comes available, and hay prices are still very high with a big demand.

SOUTH: A few areas reported short to adequate soil moisture due to some rainfall, but about 90 percent remains very poor. Cotton made good progress in some areas. Some early-planted cotton was harvested, and ginning is under way. Water ponds and livestock water tanks continue to dry, and some livestock producers are finding alternate methods of providing drinking water. Hay baling continues. Livestock are receiving supplemental feed.

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