AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
Central: Some parts of the district received significant rainfall over the weekend while other parts remained extremely dry. Drought conditions were beyond critical. Spring grasses were stressed to the limit. Warm-season grasses dried down, and there was no regrowth after being grazed. Trees and landscape plants that were not being watered were stressed. Livestock producers were supplying heavy amounts of supplemental feed to cattle.
Coastal Bend: Continued extremely warm, dry and windy weather stressed cotton, corn and sorghum. High winds compounded the poor soil-moisture situation by beating the withering field crops. Dry conditions hindered further plantings and were jeopardizing yield potentials. Pastures were also showing the effects of the drought. Bluebonnet season has come and gone with very little show compared to the usual fanfare. Livestock producers continued to supplement cattle with hay and protein.
East: Drought conditions worsened. Most counties received no rain by April 24, but those that did had only light showers that made no real impact on soil-moisture levels. Windy weather further dried out soils. Pastures were very short, and many stock ponds were going dry. Cattle were beginning to show the signs of stress from lack of quality grazing. Producers were culling herds. Only irrigated vegetable crops made progress. Henderson County’s peach crop was reported to be poor due to lack of chill hours this winter. Most counties were under burn bans.
Far West: The region was very dry and windy. Pecan trees came out of dormancy and were flowering. Fall-planted onions had poor stands, probably due to a freeze in February. Farmers began planting cotton and chiles. Some were planting sunflowers on drip-irrigated fields. Wildfires in Jeff Davis County were still burning, but about 70 percent contained. Fires in Midland County were contained with little or no loss of livestock. However, there was significant damage to fences. An estimated 90 miles of fencing will have to be replaced in Midland County alone.
North: Soil moisture ranged from short to adequate. Rising temperatures and persistent winds drained soils of moisture. Many livestock producers wanted to plant pasture grasses this spring, but weather conditions were not favorable. Topsoil moisture was adequate, but subsoil moisture needed replenishing. The lack of rain and high winds delayed planting. Some areas received rain, which helped save some crops and pastures, Unfortunately, hail accompanied the rain, which damaged about 10 percent of wheat, corn and sorghum stands. The unusually high winds were particularly hard on corn, drying the topsoil and shredding upper leaves or laying over stalks. Otherwise, corn looked good in areas that received rain, but where there wasn’t rain, it was not growing at all. The same applied to wheat. Later-planted corn entered the grain-filling stage, while earlier-planted fields were entering the dough stage. About 70 percent to 75 percent of grain sorghum and soybeans were planted. Sunflower planting was completed, and cotton planting was nearly complete. Pasture grasses were short and not growing due to low moisture. Ryegrass finished growing and had headed out, but stands were short. The first cutting of hay was expected to be lower than normal, but, weather permitting, some producers were planning to start baling the last week of April. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Some producers were feeding hay, but supplies were very short, forcing livestock to eat a lot of weeds. The insect population was increasing, and feral hogs remained a major problem.
Panhandle: The region remained very dry. Soil-moisture levels were very short to short, with most areas reporting very short. Farmers continued to prepare land for spring plantings. Corn and peanut plantings were under way. Dryland wheat was in very poor condition. Irrigated wheat was in fair condition. Rangeland was mostly in very poor condition. Supplemental feeding of livestock was ongoing.