COLLEGE STATION – Driving through Central Texas recently, Travis Miller said he saw a lot of green that wasn’t there this time last year.
“There are certainly still some severely dry areas in the state,” said Miller, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agronomist and Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences associate department head, College Station. “But over the last month to 60 days, we’ve had significant rainfall in a lot of Texas, and it’s made a lot of difference.”
The rains have perked up winter pastures and given wheat and oat crops a boost across much of the state, he said. The raised soil-moisture reserves, though still low in some areas, are much improved, giving farmers optimism for next year’s plantings.
“The Rolling Plains and Northern Plains are still very dry, and conditions there aren’t real favorable,” Miller said. “We did see some pretty good snowfall in the South Plains last week, and it will certainly contribute to causing wheat stands to grow and survive longer. There was not a lot of deep moisture, but it certainly perked things up.”
Far West Texas also got some rains, which will make a difference. Also, the cold weather should reduce insect problems for next year, he said.
There was some conjecture that the early bout of extremely cold weather in parts of the state might signal this winter being colder than normal, but Miller said national forecasts are predicting the opposite.
The forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for December through January was for above normal temperatures for most of Texas, he said.
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:
Central: Most counties reported 75 to 100 percent adequate soil moisture. Overall, rangeland and pastures were rated mostly fair, and general crop conditions good. Livestock were mostly rated in good condition. Oats and winter wheat were growing rapidly. Clover and some annual grasses were providing some rare fall grazing. About 10 percent of cotton remained to be harvested in some areas. Recent rains filled stock tanks and streams but made ideal rooting conditions for feral hogs.
Coastal Bend: Wet conditions improved soil-moisture levels but hindered fieldwork. Field preparation for winter crops continued where soils were not saturated by last week’s rains. A few counties reported their first freeze of the year. Hay production looked better than it had for several years. Cattle were in good shape, and the livestock markets were strong.