Texas Crop, Weather: Recent Rains Encourage All Crops, Wildflowers

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COLLEGE STATION - - Most of Texas got exactly what it needed in the last week, either rain or a drying spell, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

In most cases, what was needed was rain, and agricultural producers got from light drizzle to as much as 10 inches in a few areas.

"Lubbock County received 4(inches)to 5-plus inches during several rainfall events last week," said Mark Brown, AgriLife Extension agent. "Although low-lying areas received some temporary flooding, these rains came at a very beneficial time for wheat producers and cotton producers alike."

"Rain, good ole rain," said Kevin Brendle, AgriLife Extension agent for Dickens County, east of Lubbock. "Most of the county has had 1.5 to 3 inches of it. Land has been prepared and cotton planting will soon begin. Wheat and oat fields will really grow with this recent moisture."

"Pecos County received a much-needed rain over the entire county this past week," said Norman Fryar, AgriLife Extension agent for Pecos County, south of Odessa. "Measured amounts varied greatly. The moisture came slowly for the first several hours allowing the soil to open up for the heavier rains that followed on the second day. Some areas have reported moisture as deep as six inches down."

In the North, what was needed was warmer temperatures and sunshine to dry fields out, and that's what they got, AgriLife Extension agents said.

"This week has thus far brought the best weather we have had this year with the warm temperatures and sun," said Rick Maxwell, AgriLife Extension agent for Collin County. "A few more corn farmers have decided to go ahead and plant late, but we are still probably at only 20 percent of our total planted acreage for corn. What little wheat we have planted is now starting to grow, but it is still far behind for this time of year. Livestock pastures are greening up now with Bermuda and winter annuals starting to grow very well."

Though rain halted some harvests in South Texas, it was good news for most crops. The exceptions were sugarcane and onions, reported Brad Cowan, AgriLife Extension agent for Hidalgo County, south of Corpus Christi.

"Many field operations have been slowed or stopped due to rainfall received all week," Cowan said. "Rain was not good news for most onion growers as harvest nears. Some sugarcane was still not harvested and rainfall was not welcome for harvest crews."

The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters:

CENTRAL: Most of the region received a needed rain that was expected to help wheat head-fill, kick-start corn and get cotton up and going. However, topsoils were quickly being dried out by high winds. Rangeland and pasture conditions improved. Cattle were putting on weight and cows were estrous cycling. Hay producers were fertilizing.

COASTAL BEND: The region received good rains and more was forecast. Growers nearly finished planting row crops and rice. Some rice was flooded. Livestock were in good condition. Pastures continued to improve as forages responded to warm temperatures and rain.

EAST: Some counties received light rains, but much more rain was needed to keep soils from drying out. High winds removed much of the existing soil moisture. Despite the lack of rain, producers in Nacogdoches County were able to begin harvesting their first cutting of hay. Livestock were in fair to good condition with producers still providing some supplemental feed. There were some reports of insect problems on fruit trees. Feral hogs continued to be active.

FAR WEST: From 1 inch to 5 inches of rain fell. Farmers had made their first alfalfa cutting of the season and had hay on the ground when the rains came. Cotton and chile planting was halted because of the rain. Onions were at 7th leaf stage and have begun bulb formation.

NORTH: The region had beautiful weather, the best of the year, with warm temperatures and sunshine. There has been active soil preparation, planting and gardening all week and rains got everything off to a good start. Soil moisture was adequate to surplus. Winter wheat was 20 percent headed and in fair to good condition. Rangeland and pastures were in fair to good condition. Corn that was planted was emerged and in fair to excellent condition. Sorghum was in good condition with 40 percent to 100 percent planted, depending upon the county. Soybeans were 90 percent planted, and all rice was planted. Producers began to cut ryegrass hay. Strawberries were developing well, and peaches looked good. Feral hogs continued to be a major problem in cropland and pastures.

PANHANDLE: Soil-moisture levels were improved by 0.5 inch to 5 inches of rain. Many counties reported record or near-record amounts of rain for April. Wheat looked good, and the rain was particularly welcomed by dryland wheat growers. Reports of insects were few, but weed control was still a problem in some areas. Some producers started to plant corn, but they were stopped due to rain and cooler temperatures. However, as the soil temperatures rise back up to the mid to upper 50s, the rains will help with the remaining corn to be planted. There should still be plenty of soil moisture for silage and sorghum when planting begins near the end of April. Pastures looked good as spring growth came on. Livestock producers were winding down supplemental feeding of cattle.

ROLLING PLAINS: The region received as much as 5.5 inches of slow, steady rain in some areas. The rains helped replenish topsoils, which were beginning to dry out. The moisture also helped wheat and oats. Some wheat began to head, but most was just going into the boot stage. Cotton farmers were gearing up for planting; they have a positive outlook thanks to the recent moisture. Grain sorghum was being planted. Pastures were greening up, and producers were fertilizing hay fields. Some producers were still spraying for weeds. Rangeland and pasture conditions were improving daily. Livestock continued to gain and maintain good body condition scores. Stock water tanks were full. The peach crop looked good.

SOUTH: Soil-moisture levels were adequate to surplus throughout the region. Some areas received slow, steady showers with accumulation of 2 inches to 6 inches – and even as much as 10 inches in some areas. The rain put a halt to field activity but benefitted crops overall. All wheat and oats were 100 percent headed. Corn was in good condition and 100 percent emerged. In the northern part of the region, most sorghum and cotton planting was finished. In the eastern part of the region, cotton, corn, sunflowers and sorghum were well established. In the northern part of the region, corn, onions, sorghum and cotton showed good progress with little insect pressure. The wet conditions halted cabbage harvesting, and early planted wheat reached maturity. Pecans produced an abundant canopy in response to the heavy rains. However, too much rain did cause some problems, said AgriLife Extension agents. In the southern part of the region, producers were concerned about the delayed harvesting of onion and sugarcane. The citrus harvest was finished in that part of the region. As for livestock, the rain was a blessing. Stock tanks were full in many areas of the region, and rangeland and pasture conditions were improving.

SOUTH PLAINS: The region received from 1 inch to 8 inches of rain. Although there was temporary flooding in low-lying areas, the rains came just in time for wheat and cotton producers. Most producers had land prepared and were very happy to see this rain. Days were cold with moderate winds. Soil-moisture levels were adequate to surplus. Wheat was in fair to good condition and continued to mature. Pastures and rangeland were expected to be in excellent condition for the next couple of weeks. Livestock were in good condition and expected to improve with the increased forage.

SOUTHEAST: Low soil moisture conditions were alleviated by about 1 inch of rain in most counties. However, constant 10-15 mph winds quickly dried tilled soils and pastures. Corn and sorghum were in need of moisture. Cool-season grasses and legumes remained productive. Cattle bloat was reported in some areas. Haying activity continued. Winter annuals were flowering or producing seed.

SOUTHWEST: From 2 inches to 5 inches of rain fell, bringing the year-to-date cumulative rainfall to about 1.8 times the long-term average. The soil moisture profile was full, and the region looked good. Wheat, oats, corn, sorghum, cotton, onions, potatoes, pickling cucumbers, cantaloupes, watermelons and other spring vegetables were making excellent progress. However, high humidity increased incidences of rust on wheat and diseases on vegetables. Forage availability was above average. Livestock and wildlife made full use of the improved forage availability. Growers continued harvesting of cabbage and spinach. The broccoli and carrot harvest was nearly completed, and the spinach harvest began to wind down. Peanut planting was expected to begin in early May. Fruit and pecan fruit set was excellent.

WEST CENTRAL: Temperatures cooled, and many areas received a much-needed rain, which will help with cotton planting in May, said AgriLife Extension personnel. Soil moisture levels were good. Farmers were spraying for weeds and fertilizing. Wheat was doing very well, except for some areas having problems with mustard weed. Growers began harvesting wheat in some areas. Corn began to emerge. Small-grain, hay and forage planting was well under way. Rangeland and pastures were in very good condition with grasses and forbs growing well. Wildflowers were abundant and beautiful. Livestock were in good to excellent condition. Growers were preparing to spray pecans as trees budded out.



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