Texas Crop Weather: Plantings Continue Despite Frequent Rains

    With continuing rains and wet field conditions, planting of most crops in Texas remained behind the five-year average, according to a summary by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistical Service, Austin.

    The service compiles its summaries from weekly condition reports by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county agents throughout the state.

    Planting of some crops was closer to catching up than others, according to the service. Corn plantings were catching up from a week ago, with 56 percent of the crop planted compared to the five-year average of 66 percent. Cotton was 9 percent planted compared to the average of 17 percent, and grain sorghum 57 percent compared to the five-year average of 61 percent. Sunflower planting, at 38 percent, was actually ahead of the five-year average of 21 percent.

    Further behind were rice and soybeans, according to the AgriLife Extension county agent reports. About 64 percent of rice was planted at this time compared to 87 percent for the five-year average. About 21 percent of intended soybean planting was finished, compared to the five-year average of 56 percent.

    But percentages don’t tell the whole story. In East Texas, though heavy rains have replenished groundwater, several AgriLife Extension county agents reported standing water in crop fields and pastures.

    In North Texas, Rick Maxwell, AgriLife Extension agent for Collin County, estimated that only about 30 percent of ground intended for corn could be planted.

    Fields, such as this one south of Edinburg, continued to have standing water and/or soggy soils, which limited field activities, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county agent reports. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Rod Santa Ana)

    Fields, such as this one south of Edinburg, continued to have standing water and/or soggy soils, which limited field activities, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county agent reports. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Rod Santa Ana)

    “Most of these farmers will take prevented planting and let the fields lay fallow until next year when they will try and plant corn again,” Maxwell said. “Some will try to possibly plant another crop in place of the corn, maybe grain sorghum or soybeans, but the fields are still too wet to try and plant those crops.”

    In Central Texas, Edward Schneider, AgriLife Extension agent for Robertson County, recorded that 100 percent of the county’s wheat was headed and corn was emerged. But “what has been planted is starting to yellow from excessively wet conditions,” he said. “Pastures are growing rapidly, but farmers are having issues getting equipment in the field to cut hay and fertilize.”

    In Southwest Texas, Derrick Drury, AgriLife Extension agent for Medina County, listed wheat as 100 percent headed, with the majority of the crop in good to excellent condition.

    However, “rain has been steady this week,” Drury said. “A lot of the wheat stem strength was not strong enough to withstand the high winds and blew over. Unfortunately, it has ruined close to 40 percent of the fields.”

    AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

    Central: Soil moisture, rangeland, pastures, crops and livestock were all in good condition. Most of the area received rain, with accumulations of more than 4 inches in some areas. Hail and high winds accompanied some of the rain. Pastures and rangeland were green and growing, but the added moisture made only a few days suitable for fieldwork. Grass was doing well, though coastal Bermuda grass needed warmer weather for growth. Oat s and wheat were doing well throughout the region. Grain sorghum and corn emerged. Oats were ready to cut for hay when weather allowed. Cattle were looking better each week. Most hay was planted and up.

    Coastal Bend: More rain and high winds damaged some newly emerged cotton, and farmers had to replant. There was also hail damage to some newly planted crops. Nearly all stock tanks were full or at near capacity. In some counties, excessive rain stalled planting. Many pastures were flooded. It was too early to tell if standing water in some row crop fields would cause some acreage to be replanted. Some wheat was flattened by the weather, but overall the crop looked really good. Wheat harvesting was expected to start in a couple of weeks, possibly sooner. A few fields dried out enough to allow some fieldwork, mostly spraying for weeds. Much cotton and grain in some areas were expected to be classified as prevented planting for crop insurance. Pastures were lush, and cattle were getting fat. Mosquitoes were everywhere.

    East: Continued rains kept the ground saturated. Subsoil and topsoil were in the surplus range for most counties. Ponds were full and overflowing. Vegetable growers were behind with planting because of wet soils. Row crop farmers were also behind with planting. Weed and fertilizer applications slowed or stopped due to wet and muddy fields. Houston County had standing water in most locations. The area was also having problems with mosquitos. In Trinity County, even spreader trucks with flotation tires were getting stuck on a regular basis. San Augustine County ryegrass was still growing so prolifically that it was preventing emergence of warm-season grasses. Cattle stopped eating hay in favor of green grass. Livestock were in good condition. Working of new crop calves was underway, while the weaning and selling of older calves and cull cows continued. Feral hogs were active.

    Far West: Rain and windy conditions continued, with warm temperatures giving way to cooler days later in the week. Pasture and rangeland conditions were in fair to good condition. In some areas, though pastures and rangeland remained green, they were starting to dry out, but were still adequately supporting livestock. Many ranches were able to stop supplemental feeding. Subsoil moisture and topsoil moisture were adequate. In Pecos County, winter wheat was being harvested for grain rather than being baled for feed. In other counties the crop was in good condition and about 90 percent headed out. Cotton and grain sorghum were planted in some counties, while in others farmers were still preparing fields for planting. Glasscock County farmers were planting sunflowers. The second cutting of alfalfa was growing well.

    North: Topsoil moisture was surplus to adequate. More rain, 3 to 6 inches, worsened the muddy conditions of fields. The soggy conditions was expected to prevent fieldwork in some areas into the first week of May. Winter pastures still looked very good, but many had not been fertilized on time because of so much rain. The wet conditions also put farmers behind on weed control. Wheat was looking great. Corn was emerging. Pastures were in good shape for the spring. Creeks were overflowing, and mosquitoes were flourishing. Livestock were showing some stress and feet problems because of the wet conditions but were gaining weight.

    Panhandle: Temperatures were near average for most of the week, with a trace to as much as 6 inches of rain received. Soil moisture continued to be rated mostly adequate to short. Where weather permitted, farmers were preparing seedbeds and applying preplant herbicides, and were expected to begin planting within one to two weeks. Corn planting was already underway for many and will be very active for several weeks. Wheat made good progress in some counties, with potential yields for irrigated fields better than in recent years. Alfalfa also looked good, but the first cutting was still several weeks away. Cutting wheat for hay was expected to start within a week. Cattle grazing wheat were doing well, but some cattle were being moved from wheat to grass. Deaf Smith County producers had a challenging week, starting with four hours of below freezing temperatures on the wheat crop then pea- to golf-ball size hail at the end of t he week. Preliminary observations were that approximately 10 to 15 circles of wheat and triticale were damaged or totally lost due to hail. Some wind damage to center pivots was also reported by producers. Most ranchers neared being finished with spring calving, and some started shipping fall-born calves. Lipscomb County received 1.5 to 3 inches of rain, which helped rangeland but came too late to save dryland wheat. Rangeland and pastures were in poor to fair condition with most counties reporting good to fair. Cattle were in good condition.

    Rolling Plains: Rain continued to fall across parts of the region. Hail accompanied the rain in some counties, but no damage was reported. Topsoil moisture was good. Farmers were preparing land for cotton planting. Pastures continued to improve, as was the body condition scores of cattle. Spring calving was well underway. Ranchers were working cattle, and with prices remaining high, some producers were selling instead of keeping their calves. Rust problems in wheat continued, and a lot of the crop was in the flowering stage. Moisture was needed for head-fill. Oats looked good. Hay fields looked good as well, but weeds were abundant in untreated fields. Peach growers were thinning fruit. Stock-water tank and lake levels were improving.

    South: The region had near continuous rainfall of one degree or another, from light and scattered showers to heavy downpours. Rangeland, pasture and soil moisture were mostly improved by the rain, but planting was further delayed in some areas. In the northern part of the region, hail accompanied the thunderstorms in some areas. In Atascosa County, some crops were knocked down by the hail. Otherwise, 75 percent of corn was emerged, oats were in fair condition and headed out, and 90 percent of the sorghum was planted. Wheat was starting to turn color and ripen, and corn and sorghum were progressing well in Frio County. Soil moisture was mostly adequate. In the eastern part of the region, wheat was flattened by high winds and hail, but producers believed they may still be able to harvest the crop. Planting in Kleberg and Kenedy counties remained at a standstill due to saturated field conditions. Soil moisture ranged from mostly adequate to 100 percent surplus. In the western part of the region, parts of Zapata County received 6 to 10 inches of rain. Wheat and oats made progress, and all cotton was emerged. Watermelon transplanting began but was halted due to wet field conditions. Spinach harvesting, both for fresh market and processed spinach varieties, was completed. Soil moisture was mostly adequate in Dimmit and Zapata counties, with Zavala County reporting 100 percent short subsoil moisture but 100 percent adequate topsoil moisture. In the southern part of the region, field activities, such as hay harvesting, were stymied due to continuous light and scattered showers. Grain sorghum and cotton progressed well, but weed problems increased. Starr County got 3 to 5 inches of rain. Soil moisture ranged from 90 percent adequate to mostly surplus.

    South Plains: Except for Cochran and Garza counties, the region received moisture. Some areas received only spotty showers, but others got up to 1.5 inches. Swisher County also received quarter to golf-ball sized hail that damaged about 40 percent of the wheat crop. Corn planting, pre-watering and herbicide applications were brought to a halt by the rains. Daytime temperatures in the upper 80s and high winds were depleting topsoil moisture in many areas. Producers in Hockley and Lubbock counties began to plant corn and grain sorghum. While soil temperatures were in the 60s, a couple of cooler days were forecast, which prevented optimum planting conditions for cotton. Wheat continued to mature and had reached the heading stage in many counties. Pastures and rangeland remained in good to excellent condition. Cattle were in mostly good condition.

    Southeast: Soil-moisture levels throughout the region varied widely, though were mostly in the adequate to surplus range. Rangeland and pastures varied from excellent to good, with good ratings being the most common. Walker County was exceptionally wet. Pastures were still very wet, with limited access possible. Scattered showers continued across Brazos County. Temperatures rose into the mid-80s causing cool-season forage growth to slow. Winter annual grasses were still providing good grazing in Montgomery County. Bermuda grass and Bahia grass were growing. In Waller County, fly and other insect populations were increasing. In Chambers County, rice planting was halted by heavy rains. In Fort Bend County, fields were slowly drying out but more rain was expected. Livestock were in good condition.

    Southwest: Soils were saturated by continuous rainfall. Rangeland and pasture forages were very abundant in all areas. Winter wheat was damaged by high winds and excessive rains. Some wheat was flattened. Corn and grain sorghum looked good. Livestock remained in good condition due to the quality of readily available forages.

    West Central: Days were warm with mild nights. Most of the region received more rain, with hail and high winds causing damage to some crops. The rains improved overall crop and pasture conditions, but field activity was delayed due to the wet conditions in some areas. Where field conditions allowed, hay producers were applying fertilizers and weed killers. Some cutting and baling of small grains for hay was underway. Wheat was mostly in good to excellent condition, but much will likely be grazed out or baled for hay due to current low grain prices. Wheat harvested for grain was expected to produce above-average yields. Rangeland and pastures continued to improve with good moisture and warm temperatures. Livestock remained in good condition, and ranchers were doing spring cattle work.




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