Texas Field Reports: Recent Rains Prove a Mixed Bag

    A flooded corn field in Fayette County where around 1,500 acres of crops were swept away or drowned out by flooding. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Scott Willey)

    Precipitation from a mid-April storm system was good and bad for Texas farmers, according to the state climatologist.

    Heavy rains caused flooding in some areas of the state that damaged corn and other row crop fields and pastures. Around 1,500 of 10,000-acres of corn in Fayette County were drowned out or swept away, said Scott Willey, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent in Fayette.

    Much of the damage was limited to bottomland and fields near creeks and rivers, Willey said.

    Willey said it was doubtful those producers would replant. He said rye and wheat fields there were also affected by heavy rains and high winds.

    Hail caused the total loss of just under 1,000 acres of corn in Matagorda County, according to AgriLife Extension reports.

    Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas state climatologist, said the storm system’s effect on individuals varied widely. He said the storm system that caused severe flooding in Houston was not exceptional with regard to overall rainfall and that while it caused widespread damage to some areas, it brought needed moisture to others.

    He compared it to a severe storm that dumped an average of 2.5 inches of rain around the state in October 2015. The Corsicana area was hardest hit when that storm system dumped 20 inches of rain and caused severe flooding.

    “This April’s event was a big multi-day event but it didn’t do damage in as many parts of the state,” he said.

    Notable amounts of moisture that fell in different regions of the state and caused flooding included 10-plus inches in southeast Texas between Fayette and San Jacinto counties and more than 8-inches between Wichita Falls and Stephenville, and in Jack and Palo Pinto counties, he said.

    South of Abilene also experienced widespread flooding when more than 5 inches fell as the storm system passed. He said areas where rainfall is scarce or heavy rains rarely occur can be impacted more than areas like East Texas where heavy rain occurs more often.


    Photo by Scott Willey, Texas AgriLife Extension A flooded corn field in Fayette County where around 1,500 acres of crops were swept away or drowned out by flooding earlier this month. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Scott Willey)

    The Leon River, southwest of Waco, was still 2.5 feet above flood stage on Friday. At its peak, the west fork of the Trinity River was more than 6 feet above flood stage.

    “The streams just don’t handle as much water in those areas,” he said.

    Ronnie Schnell, AgriLife Extension state cropping systems specialist, College Station, said he believed most of the flooding occurred north and west of croplands. But he said subsequent river and creek swelling may have flooded bottomland and affected row crops after the rains subsided.

    Overall, the rains helped soil moisture levels around the state, especially in the Panhandle where topsoil needed moisture to allow farmers to begin planting row crops, he said.

    AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

    CENTRAL: Central Texas received 5.5-8 inches of rain. Silage harvest and small grains were on hold until the fields dry up enough to get in. The rain halted field work and planting of any kind and more rain was forecast. Livestock were doing well with no supplemental feeding. Hay was ready to cut and bale in many places, but the rain put that work on hold. Wheat and oats were blown flat from the high winds and hard rain.

    Soil temperatures remained on the cool side but garden plants were coming up. Forage and water were plentiful. Tanks, lakes and rivers were full and flowing. Flood gate operations were in progress across the region and some areas experienced flooding. Fruit trees appeared to be putting on fruit.

    All counties reported good soil moisture and good overall range and pasture conditions. Overall, livestock conditions were good in all counties as well. Crop conditions were 90 percent good.

    ROLLING PLAINS: Rain fell across most of the region. Totals of 7-8 inches were reported in some counties, which both helped and hurt crops. Several counties reported flooding and some roads were closed. Rains should help with cotton planting season. Lakes and tanks were replenished and soil was completely saturated. Wind and hail damaged some wheat and oats. Rust took its toll on some wheat varieties.

    COASTAL BEND: Some areas reported rainfall of 2-4 inches. Heavy rains caused flooding in Fayette County that damaged an estimated 1,500 acres of corn. Hail damaged less than 1,000 total acres of crops in Matagorda County.

    Farmers in the river bottoms surveyed crop losses due to river flooding, which also caused some dams, roads and bridges to wash out. Other farmers worked on and repaired equipment during rainy weather. Some livestock producers have been rounding up stray cattle and making fence repairs so they can resume normal operations.

    Soil moisture conditions were excellent and fertilizer was applied to some pasture and hay fields. Herbicides were applied to some fields. Sorghum and cotton were looking good. Some wheat has been harvested and the rest were not far from harvest. Many areas reported corn fields looked good, with noticeable tassels. Livestock prices fell compared to prior weeks. Pastures and livestock were in good shape.

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    EAST: The region received considerable rain, with amounts up to 8 inches. Many fields were saturated. Counties reported adequate to surplus subsoil and topsoil conditions. With subsoil moisture at capacity, runoff and short-term flooding was reported. Lakes and ponds were full to running over.

    Producers along the Trinity River continued to monitor river levels for flooding. Many landowners reported erosion and pond failure due to excess rain. Gardens were planted and have started to grow. Pastures were showing signs of standing water. Pasture and range conditions were fair to good across the region.

    Corn crops in Houston County were standing in water for several days. Producers with winter pastures were having great grazing. Green winter grasses were transitioning to summer grasses. Warm season forages responded to increased moisture and night temperatures. Producers were fertilizing warm-season pastures as they can get to them.

    Spring calf working continued for beef producers. Selling of cull cows and market-ready calves continued. Livestock were in good condition. Control of gophers, fire ants and feral hogs continued.

    SOUTH PLAINS: Cochran County sub and topsoil moisture conditions, pasture and range continued to improve with recent rains. Winter wheat also improved. Producers were preparing for spring planting.

    Floyd County received between 1-2 inches of rain which was expected to help wheat and corn planting. Some corn was already planted and up. It will still be weeks before cotton is planted, as farmers wait for soil temperatures to rise.

    Garza County received 1-2 inches of rain. Temperatures were mostly in the 70s. Producers continued to prepare land for cotton planting and will continue after fields dry. Range and pastures were in mostly good shape and the latest rain event should help growth of warm season grasses. Cattle were in mostly good condition.

    Lubbock County received widely scattered rains with around 1 inch falling in the northeast portion of the county. Isolated hail was also reported in the area. The 10-day average minimum soil temperature was around 62 degrees. Preparation continued for spring planting.

    In Mitchell County, a storm brought mostly pea-sized hail mixed with some marble- and quarter-sized hail stones. It damaged some wheat but mainly vegetable gardens.

    Scurry County reported rainfall totals ranging from 2-5 inches and fields were very wet.

    In Yoakum County, producers had one solid day of rain and then a day of very strong winds which reduced days to work in the fields.

    PANHANDLE: Texas Panhandle temperatures were near normal most of the week. Some moisture was received but soil moisture was rated mostly short.

    Deaf Smith County producers have slowly started planting corn acres. Soil temperature and conditions were good to start the planting. Many producers waited on forecast rain that did not appear and will begin planting in earnest. Irrigated winter wheat conditions continued to deteriorate with the appearance of diseases, mainly wheat streak and other associated viruses that damaged wheat quality. Some producers opted to chop or ensile the damaged crop to salvage income.

    Hall County soil moisture profile looked good. Pasture, wheat and cattle conditions were improving.

    Lipscomb County received 1.25-inches of rain.

    Moore County received 4-6 inches of precipitation with minimal amounts of hail. Planting moisture was very good.

    Sherman County received about 4 inches of rain and pea-size hail. Hail did not affect any crops in the county. Cotton planting should start soon. Livestock looks good. Feedlots were getting steers in due to low corn prices. Some producers hoped to try their luck in cattle this year versus crops. Range and pastures were rated mostly fair.

    NORTH: Topsoil moisture was mostly surplus throughout the counties. Rainfall amounts ranged from 1.5-3.5 inches. The ground was saturated so most water was runoff. Pastures and fields were very wet and more rain was forecast. Corn and milo had a little yellow tint from all of the rain, but still looked acceptable with good stands reported.

    Wheat and oats were all headed out and at the dough stage. Producers were hoping the wet weather doesn’t negatively impact kernel size and development. Pastures were lush and green and soaking up the moisture.

    A lot of the farmers and ranchers were able to get pastures fertilized between rains, and some fields looked a little burned after applications. Coastal Bermuda should thicken up and be ready to cut and bale soon. Ranchers were either finished or nearing the end of calving season. They were worried about the decline in prices in the cattle markets the last few weeks, especially in the calf markets. Rain, wind and hail stressed livestock and made it challenging to move them in muddy conditions.

    FAR WEST: Wheat in Glasscock County progressed well and was fully headed out with only a few fields showing signs of rust. Damage from a past freeze has started showing up and was a little worse than first thought but still not too significant. Corn and sorghum continued to grow nicely and most fields have nice uniform stands. Cotton fields that were not treated with pre-emerge herbicides have become very weedy and producers were scrambling to get their fields cleaned up. They were having difficulties due to the rains.

    Reagan County was in good shape due to recent rains. Upton County received 1.75-3 inches of rain. Producers were gearing up to start planting. Ranchers started to shear and work late lambs. Livestock and wildlife continued to receive supplemental feed.

    Conditions were good in Val Verde County.

    Moderate rains fell throughout Andrews County which provided adequate moisture to improve rangelands.

    Cattle in Brewster and Loving counties were in good condition. Grass greened up but some poisonous weeds were showing up and causing a trouble in stocker cattle.

    Pecos County received 0.38 inches of rain. Pasture and rangeland continued to be fair with adequate subsoil and topsoil moisture.

    WEST CENTRAL: Warmer weather conditions with mild nights prevailed. Rainfall was reported in all areas and some low areas flooded. Producers stayed out of fields due to wet conditions. Recent moisture will likely be good for wheat and oats, but some diseases will show up as a result. Spring seeded crops will likely be planted as soon as fields dry out.

    Grain sorghum emerged and was in excellent condition. Corn was in good condition as well. The winter wheat crop was improving. Some hail damage was reported on wheat, young milo and corn crops.

    Range and pastures were in good to excellent condition. Pastures looked very good for this time of year with spring green-up. Forages improved from all of the moisture. Winter wheat was being grazed by livestock in some areas. Livestock remain in fair to good condition. Pecan trees were off to a good start.

    SOUTHEAST: Rain totals in Fort Bend County ranged from 5-12 inches. Much of the row crop land received 5-7 inches and most of the rainfall drained. While there was some cotton expected to be re-planted, other crops fared well. Livestock were in good condition. Some producers with cattle in river bottomlands moved them to higher ground because of expected flooding in rivers and creeks.

    Walker County was very wet. Forage grasses that were not flooded look good.

    Brazos County received significant rainfall across the entire county. Low lying areas flooded.

    Hardin County also received heavy rains. The saturated ground flooded. All areas, even if not flooded, were very wet. Soil-moisture levels throughout the region varied widely, mostly in the adequate to surplus range with surplus being the most common.

    Walker County reported 100 percent adequate moisture. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely as well with most excellent to good.

    SOUTHWEST: Frequent rain helped fill stock tanks and provided moisture for field crops. Some areas received hail that damaged crops, homes and vehicles.Generally, the rain was good, totaling 1-4 Inches. Corn, milo and pastures looked good. Rangelands were offering lush vegetation. Spring lambing and kidding continued. Livestock were in good condition, but cattle producers were dealing with horn flies after the rain.

    SOUTH: Temperatures were starting to rise. Warmer temperatures and the lack of beneficial rain dried conditions in fields and on range and pastures.

    Corn, cotton, oats and sorghum progressed well in Atascosa and Frio counties. All cotton and corn crops were planted throughout both those counties and have emerged. Oat crops were 100 percent headed out.

    Range and pastures were fair, and soil moisture conditions were 70-80 percent adequate in Atascosa County and 100 percent adequate in Frio County.

    All crops were progressing well in Jim Wells County. Corn crops emerged 100 percent, while 85 percent of cotton and 95 percent of sorghum crops were planted.

    Less than a half-inch of rain fell in Kleberg and Kenedy counties. Cloudy conditions continued throughout the area. Corn, sorghum and cotton looked great. No major insect or disease infestations were reported. Range and pastures were fair.

    Soil moisture conditions were 90-100 percent adequate in Brooks County;  70 percent adequate in Jim Wells County; and 70-75 percent adequate in Kleberg and Kenedy counties.

    Conditions were dry in Zavala County. Warmer temperatures helped wheat and oat fields mature. The last fields of spinach were harvested. Livestock producers continued to report very good forage quality and availability for livestock on native range and pastures. The availability of good forage continued to provide livestock producers relief from supplemental feeding activities. Cotton, corn and sorghum made good progress. Producers continued to monitor insect pressures. Range and pastures were good and soil moisture remained adequate.

    All crops were progressing well in Hidalgo County. All corn, cotton and sorghum crops have emerged and were in good condition. Range and pastures were in excellent condition. Soil moisture conditions remained mostly adequate in Hidalgo County.

    Starr County soil moisture conditions remained at 90 percent adequate.

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