Texas Crop, Weather: Wind & More Wind The Common Theme This Week

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COLLEGE STATION - - If there was a common theme to Texas weather this week it was wind, and then more wind, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

In some cases, the wind was welcome as it dried out fields and allowed producers to plant or prepare to plant spring crops. In other cases, from Far West to Southeast Texas, high winds dried out topsoils, laid down crops and made spraying pesticides difficult.

In the worst cases, high winds -- possibly even tornadoes -- toppled center-pivot irrigation systems and damaged other structures.

"Can you say wind?" said Rick Auckerman, AgriLife Extension agent for Deaf Smith County, west of Amarillo. "Deaf Smith County has been pummeled this week with 40-60 mph winds making the main concern of the week to try and control the fields from blowing."

"Scattered showers have brought us little drops of rain here and there," said Anthony Munoz, AgriLife Extension agent for Knox County, west of Wichita Falls. "Although it hasn't been enough to slow some of the sand and dirt that has been flying around with some of the high winds we have seen this past week."

"We're still dealing with windy conditions," said Byron Gray , AgriLife Extension agent for Throckmorton County, north of Abilene. "Wind has made it tough for those who were aerially spraying."

"It was windy all week long, with several gusts over 40-45 mph," said Arlan Gentry, AgriLife Extension agent for Ward County, west of Midland. "Most pastures and rangeland were fair to good with more greening, but high winds and higher temperatures are taking their toll on some places. Most residents are getting tired of this wind; it's almost May. Wildfires are still a danger because of windy conditions and lots of old, dry fuel: grass."

"The past week had extremely high winds across the area," said Pasquale Swaner, AgriLife Extension agent for Falls County, east of Temple. "Pasture conditions are improving with temperatures rising. Wind is laying down the small corn plants due to underdeveloped roots."

"There was some damage depending on where you lived in McLennan county from high winds - - possibly tornado activity this past week," said Shane McLellan, AgriLife Extension agent for McLennan County, Waco. "Some areas lost many large live oak trees. Some houses along the Brazos River were destroyed."

"High winds and hot days have taken much of the topsoil moisture," said Armon Hewitt, AgriLife Extension agent for Trinity County, southwest of Lufkin. "Many producers fertilized their hay fields this week hoping for the rains predicted in the forecast."

The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters:

CENTRAL: Native warm-season grasses were off to a good start. Coastal Bermuda grass fields were a little behind due to some cool nights. Last year's drought may have weakened root systems too, but this should improve with some consistently warm nights and days. Fruit trees carried a good load. Producers placed casebearer traps in pecan orchards and were monitoring moth catches to determine when to spray.

COASTAL BEND: There was no significant rainfall, which allowed field activities such as fertilizer applications, cultivation and replanting. Some areas needed rain to make good crops. Pecan nut casebearer moths were active and spray dates were scheduled. Weeds were prevalent in pastures and producers were applying herbicides. Pastures continued to improve, and livestock were in good condition.

EAST: Despite forecasts for heavy rains, many counties received only scattered showers. Henderson County was one exception. It recorded 2 inches of rain along with extensive storm damage, and declared a disaster area. Winds and warm days contributed to dry soils in other counties. Much more rain was needed to boost crop and grass growth. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Feral hog activity increased.

FAR WEST: High winds were the rule. Farmers were preparing to plant cotton. Most wheat was being cut for hay. A few of the irrigated wheat fields nearly ready to be cut for grain. Rangeland was in fair condition. Winter weeds were prevalent, especially African rue and wild mustard. There was a high danger of wildfire.

NORTH: Soil moisture was adequate. Drier weather has allowed field work to continue and benefited corn, sorghum and wheat. What corn was planted emerged and was growing well thanks to the recent rains and warmer temperatures. Growers were planting grain sorghum and a few acres of soybeans - - far behind the normal planting date of early to mid-April. Corn, sorghum, and soybeans were in good condition. Wheat was in fair to good condition. The planting of cotton and peanut was ongoing. Rice was in good condition. Bermuda grass growth was slowed by cooler-than-average temperatures, but pastures were improving rapidly as winter annuals, primarily ryegrass, greened up. Hay production was going into full swing. Cool-season weeds were heading out. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Insect populations were increasing. Sweet potato growers were preparing fields for planting.

PANHANDLE: Strong winds began to dry out topsoils. On the good side, this allowed producers to get in the fields to catch up on planting corn and prepare to plant sorghum, cotton and peanuts. Wheat continued to develop and was in fair to good condition. About 2 percent of corn already planted was emerged. Rangeland grass growth started to take off and was expected to provide good spring grazing for livestock.

ROLLING PLAINS: Though high winds dried out wheat somewhat, the crop still looked very promising and made excellent progress. Rust was present but not at serious levels. Some wheat and oat fields have been harvested for hay with good yields and quality. Alfalfa growers were starting to take their first cutting. Producers prepared fields to plant cotton, milo and sesame as soon as possible in order to take advantage of the excellent subsoil moisture. Cotton producers will have to wait for warmer soil temperatures. Peanut producers were already planting. Stocker cattle were getting fat on wheat pasture, and cow-calf pairs were recovering from a long winter on lush spring pastures. Pastures looked excellent, and livestock were in good to excellent condition.

SOUTH: Warmer temperatures and adequate soil moisture conditions persisted throughout the week-long reporting period. There was no rain for a change, and temperatures climbed into to the upper 80s and lower 90s. Rangeland and pastures benefited from the combination of the earlier continuous rain and warmer temperatures of the last week. In the northern part of the region, corn and sorghum fields were developing nicely. Early-planted cotton emerged. Potatoes were nearly ready to be harvested, and producers began cutting and bailing hay. Wheat and oat fields were turning color. The crop situation in the eastern part of the region improved except for grain sorghum which remained yellowed from weeks of excessive moisture. As heat units began to accumulate, cotton growth was good. Growers resumed the cabbage harvest. In the western counties, wheat harvesting in early planted fields was ongoing, and onions were progressing well following irrigation. Also in that area, growers were irrigating corn, sorghum, watermelons and spring cabbage. In the southernmost part of the region, growers were harvesting vegetables and sugarcane, while the citrus harvest wound down. Livestock producers found they could reduce supplemental feeding of cattle to a minimum due to light stocking and improved forage growth for grazing. Most livestock were in fair to good condition with body condition scores improving significantly.

SOUTHEAST: The region received little to no measurable precipitation, and winds dried out topsoils. Ryegrass was maturing quickly and being harvested for hay in some counties. Legumes were nearly finished flowering and about to produce seed. Pastures were in fair to good shape, but warm-season perennial grasses were slow to come on because of damage from last year's drought and colder-than-normal winter. Growers continued to plant rice.

SOUTH PLAINS: The region had cool nights and windy days that dried out surface soils. Warmer soil temperatures were needed for planting. Soil moisture was adequate. Producers continued to apply pesticides and prepare fields for planting. Wheat was in fair to good condition and was heading. Pastures and rangeland were in good condition and continued to improve. Livestock were in good conditions.

SOUTHWEST: April rainfall was about 85 percent of the long-term average, but year-to-date accumulation total remained above normal. Damage reports from the previous week's hail storms and high winds noted injury to onions and wheat, plus some center-pivot irrigation systems were blown over. It was still too early, however, to fully assess the extent of the damage, but except for hail damage to onions, it appears that crop loss will be minor. Wheat was starting to dry down. High humidity levels encouraged rust and other fungal diseases in wheat. Growers expected to start harvesting wheat in 1-2 weeks. Forage availability was above average. Livestock and wildlife made full use of the improved forage availability. The spring onion harvest began last week. The cabbage and broccoli harvest was ongoing. Potatoes made excellent progress, and growers planned to start planting peanuts as soon as fields dried out.

WEST CENTRAL: The region had warm windy days and cool nights. Producers were cutting and baling some small-grain fields for hay. Cotton growers were preparing fields for planting, but actual plantings were pending warmer temperatures. Producers were waiting for wheat to mature for harvesting. Crop growth was slowed by the cool nights. Rangeland and pastures looked very good and continued to improve. Warm-season grasses had more weeds to compete with than was average for this time of the year. Livestock were in good to excellent condition. Spring cattle work continued. Pecan growers were spraying and fertilizing orchards.



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