More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries for the period of Jan. 30 through Feb. 6.
Central: Rains filled stock ponds and lakes, and raised soil-moisture levels. Warmer-than-normal weather and sunshine brought small grains to life. Pastures and small grains that had been fertilized earlier were growing exceptionally well. Small grains and pastures were reported to look the best for this time of year since 2009. Wheat and oats were doing well after the recent rains, especially those fields that producers planted late. Ranchers who had been holding off for a rain, began receiving stocker cattle. Sunflower planting was expected to start in the next week or two, followed closely by corn planting. Some producers were concerned whether winter wheat had had enough chilling hours. Farmers were applying nitrogen fertilizer. Beef cattle producers are still struggling with the expense of supplemental feeding.
Coastal Bend: Some areas received great rains during the reporting period. Soil moisture levels improved, helping plans for row-crop planting within the next 30 days. The moisture, along with warm weather and sunshine, made excellent growing conditions for winter forages and clover. Cattlemen, however, were concerned that with the amount of clover growing there was high potential for bloat in livestock, and they were placing anti-bloat blocks in fields. In the region’s southern counties, drought conditions persisted. There was very little runoff and stock pond levels remained critical.
East: Scattered rains fell across the region. Warmer-than-normal temperatures and the recent rains improved winter forages. Some producers were able to graze cattle on pastures, helping relieve some of the stress of finding quality hay. Lake, pond and creek levels rose. Farmers continued preparing fields for spring vegetable planting. Wild pigs remained a problem, with the animals invading residential areas of larger cities.
Far West: The first week of February brought foggy, drizzly and damp mornings, but no measurable rainfall. Temperatures were above normal, with highs in the upper 60s to 70s and lows near freezing to the 40s. By the weekend, daytime highs dropped to the upper 40s, and windy conditions raised the danger of wildfire. Pastures were greening up some with cool-season forbs and grasses, but their growth was not sufficient to provide additional nutrition for livestock. Producers were still feeding cattle, both stockers and brood cows, while others were shipping livestock to feedlots. It was the middle of calving season for most herds. Ranchers were struggling to maintain the condition of cattle they hung onto throughout the drought and were providing large amounts of supplemental feed. There were reports of locoweed in Presidio County. Small grains under irrigation were in fair condition and provided some grazing. Lambing and kidding season was expected to begin soon. Farmers were preparing cotton fields for planting by applying pre-emergent herbicides and pre-watering. Fall-planted onions were coming out of dormancy. Pecans growers were pruning orchards.