Texas crop, weather

Texas crop, weather

Hay fields respond to moisture, southern sorghum harvest on the run

COLLEGE STATION — With few exceptions, hay meadows, rangeland and row crops continued to respond to rain received from tropical storms, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

The rains continued to cause flooding in South Texas, particularly in Hidalgo and Starr counties. The challenge for many farmers in this area was to get sorghum harvested before the next rain, said Brad Cowan, AgriLife Extension agent for Hidalgo County.

“We’re harvesting grain sorghum as fast as we can,” Cowan said. “Some of the fields are still too wet to get into, and, of course, we’ve got challenges with long lines at elevators and those sort of things too.”

Cowan said he’d only heard limited reports of sprouting in the grain heads, though there had been some quality reduction discounts at the elevators.

“The main thing, is we do have dry weather right now, and we’re trying to get the crop out of the field as fast as we can,” he said.

While rains were a challenge to South Texas agriculture, hay producers in East and North Texas were particularly thankful for the revitalization of pastures that it brought, AgriLife Extension agents reported. The rain allowed many farmers to take a second cutting.

But when it comes to hay supplies, local producers aren’t out of the woods, yet, said Chad Gulley, AgriLife Extension agent for Nacogdoches County.

Like much of East Texas, Gulley said that the rains were hit and miss, and so are the hay stocks.

“Parts of the county received rain, and parts are pretty dry,” he said. “Some producers are cutting hay; some of the cuttings are pretty good. Some are pretty light.”

Gulley said many got a first cutting, but the unusually cool weather meant the Bermuda grass was diluted by a lot of ryegrass.

But what’s been unusual, this year is the severe infestation of both grasshoppers and armyworms.

“Producers who have been in the county for a long time tell me this is the worst case of grasshoppers they’ve ever seen,” Gulley said.

Grasshoppers typically follow dry weather problems, but the armyworms were early, he noted.

“We usually don’t get armyworms until late July or August, but we’ve had them for a couple of weeks now,” Gulley said.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

CENTRAL:Grasshopper infestations were severe in some areas. Native pastures responded well to the rainfall, and producers were busy cutting hay and reported getting decent yields. Corn and grain sorghum was expected to be soon ready for harvest. Cotton was coming along well. Rangeland and pastures were in fair to good condition. Many producers were chemically controlling brush. The peach crop looked good.

COASTAL BEND: Hot, dry weather dried down crops for harvest. However, many fields still had standing water, delaying harvest. The harvesting of grain sorghum and sunflowers was restarted in some areas. Fall webworms were reported on pecans. Grasshoppers continued to be a problem in pastures. Livestock were in good condition.

EAST: Hay producers continued harvesting and were seeing good yields. Some producers had to wait for cut hat to dry out before baling. The rains in early July perked up pastures and got hay growing, but the lack of rain and high temperatures began dry out topsoils in some areas. Feral hogs were reported in pastures, hay fields, and home lawns and gardens. Grasshoppers and armyworms became an increasing problem. Livestock were in fair to good condition.

FAR WEST: Parts of the region received as much as 0.5 inch of rain, improving rangeland grasses, but also causing new weed growth. A lot of alfalfa was lost in the last few weeks because of overly wet conditions. Cotton was squaring and under low insect pressure. Chiles were in full bloom. Sorghum and pecans looked good.

NORTH: Soil moisture ranged from short to adequate. Days were very humid with temperatures in the upper 90s and 100s. Some areas had isolated rain showers but most areas needed more rain. Most corn was somewhat drought-stressed, and some producers decided to cut it for hay. The hot and dry conditions allowed hay harvesting to continue, with yields picking up some from earlier in the year. The oat and winter wheat harvests were complete. Grain sorghum headed and was turning color. Most soybeans looked good and were setting pods. The rain also helped pastures and hay meadows, and producers should get at least one more cutting of hay. Cotton was in fair condition, and the planting of sunflowers was completed. Peanut and rice were in very poor condition. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Rangeland and pastures were in fair to good condition.

PANHANDLE: Parts of the region received only a trace of rain while others recorded as much as 4 inches. Only a few fields of wheat were yet to be harvested. Producers were irrigating corn where there was no rain, but overall the crop was in good condition. Spider mites were becoming a problem in areas. Other corn producers had to apply fungicide because of wet conditions. Where there wasn’t rain, cotton received good heat units and progressed well. Sorghum and soybeans were in fair to good condition. Peanuts were in excellent condition. Cattle were in good condition with some problems with horn flies. Rangeland was in good to excellent condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: Hot, humid weather followed the tropical-storm rains. Creeks and stock tanks were full, and a new crop of weeds emerged. Spray planes were flying seven to 10 days behind, and some producers tried to take sprayer rigs into fields, but some areas still remained too wet. Some cotton stands were discolored due from much water. Other stands were in excellent condition and setting bolls. Some haygrazer fields were cut and baled and were ready for another cutting. Sorghum headed out and was coloring. Peaches were better than average, and peanut producers expected good yields. Numbers of mosquitoes and flies were up, having been able to rapidly reproduce under perfect conditions of stagnant water and hot weather. Cattle were in excellent condition.

SOUTH: Temperatures from the high 90s to more 100 degrees began to dry things up throughout the region. Rangeland and pastures have continued to improve with continued spotty showers but were beginning to show signs of heat stress in some areas. Overall, crops were in good condition, as were livestock. Soil moisture ranged from 50 percent to 100 percent adequate in most parts of the region. The exceptions were Kleberg and Hidalgo counties, where it was reported as100 percent short, and Zavala County with 65 percent to 70 percent surplus. In the northern part of the region, corn harvesting began, and peanut planting was completed. Producers in the eastern part of the region began harvesting grain. Producers were concerned about sprouting in grain heads, but how many fields were been affected was not known. Yields were good, but quality grades were disappointing. In the western part of the district, corn and sorghum matured under the hot, dry conditions and were nearly ready for harvesting. Also in that area, cotton was progressing well, watermelon, cucumber and cantaloupe harvest was completed, and grain sorghum harvesting in that area will be going full throttle soon. In the southern part of the region, 95 percent of sunflowers and 20 percent of the corn crop were harvested. Growers planned to resume the harvesting of grain sorghum and corn as soon as fields dried out. Reports of crop and livestock losses in Starr County from severe flooding continued to come in. Nearly every floodway along the border reached its capacity.

SOUTH PLAINS: Conditions were pleasant with rain followed by warmer temperatures. Soil moisture was adequate to surplus. Corn was in fair to good condition and coming along nicely with over half the crop beginning to tassel. Cotton was in good condition with much blooming. Producers were fertilizing as fast as they could, and many were applying plant-growth regulators. Weed management was ongoing. Sorghum was in good condition and is heading. Pastures and rangeland were in good condition after improving significantly in the past few weeks. Cattle were in excellent condition.

SOUTHEAST: Low rainfall and high temperatures slowed pasture growth in parts of the district. There was enough residual soil moisture, however, to keep pastures green.

SOUTHWEST: Open, dry weather and relatively mild temperatures allowed cotton, peanuts, pecans, pastures and rangeland to make full use of recent rains. Cumulative rainfall since September 2009 was about 20 percent above the long-term average. The harvesting of fresh sweet corn, watermelons, cantaloupes, corn and sorghum continued. The spring onion harvest was nearly complete. Forage availability remains above average for this time of the year.

WEST CENTRAL: Days were very humid and hot. Farmers were preparing fields for the planting of small grains. Hay producers were cutting and baling. Cotton looked very good due to recent rains and hot weather. Grasshoppers were an increasing issue in rural landscapes and around native pastures. Rangeland and pasture were in excellent condition. Livestock were in good to excellent condition. Growers continued irrigating pecans and scab was found in some pecans. The peach harvest began.


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