North: From 2 to 5 inches of rain raised soil-moisture levels. Days were unseasonably warm, with highs in the 70s. Cattle producers were taking advantage of the warm weather to turn cattle in on winter pastures and reduce the amount of hay and supplements they were feeding. Producers were very optimistic about the upcoming hay and summer-grazing season. Warm temperatures caused trees to bud prematurely, which caused concern for some for fruit and nut crops. The heavy rains also replenished stock ponds. Most were now full for the first time in a year. Feral hogs remained a major problem.
Panhandle: Temperatures were above average for most of the reporting period, then dropped to near average. Part of the region received some moisture late in the week, with accumulations ranging from a trace to 1.5 inches. Soil-moisture levels varied from adequate to very short with most reporting short to very short. Winter wheat was in poor to very poor condition. Most rangeland and pastures were in poor to very poor condition. Cattle were reported as mostly in good condition, with a few herds on irrigated wheat experiencing bloating issues. Livestock producers continued supplemental feeding of livestock.
Rolling Plains: Conditions remained dry in the region’s western counties. Pastures and rangeland were in poor condition as producers fed supplements to cattle on a daily basis. Producers who had access to winter wheat have been grazing cattle on it for the past month, hoping it will hold them through winter. Without any moisture, producers may have to start selling off cattle again. Farmers have begun preparing fields for this year’s crop, but without any moisture, there is only so much they can do. As they begin to think about the new crop, the possibility of another drought year lingers in their minds and is playing an important role in how they go about preparing fields and how much money they are willing to invest in production costs. Cotton producers were reserving cottonseed, but were cautious about planting high-dollar varieties. In contrast, the eastern counties reported the recent rains left rangeland and pastures in good condition. The wheat looked great there and stock tanks were full.
South: Much of the region received rain, but with few exceptions, accumulations were not enough to improve rangeland and pastures very much. Brooks County received the most with 2 to 3 inches, while Atascosa County got about 2.5 inches. Some pastures showed signs of green-up due to warm weather. However, cattle were generally not doing well. Body condition scores have further declined from fair to poor as calving season continued, and cows needed better nutrition. The cost of hay and protein supplements continued to increase, and stock tanks on many ranches remained at very low levels or were completely dried out. Webb County reported the cost of round bales of hay at about $150 and square bales at about $13 each. In Atascosa County, oats and wheat responded very well to the rains. In Jim Wells County, field activities were on hold until more rain was received. In Zavala County, dryland oat and wheat fields were mostly in fair to good condition. Also in that area, spinach fields were nearly ready for a second cutting. In Cameron County, corn harvesting was ongoing, as well as pre-irrigation for spring planting. In Starr County, spring planting was ongoing.