Texas Field Reports: Rain Helps Some Areas, Others Not Enough to Matter

A dried playa lake near Amarillo offers the only green grazing for a herd of cattle. Photo: Kay Ledbetter, Texas Agrilife Extension

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

CENTRAL: Much-needed rains improved pasture and hay field conditions. One area reported 2 inches of rain. Producers hope the rain will translate into a late-season cutting of hay. Daytime temperatures remained in the upper 90s. Conditions were still dry. Corn harvest was nearing completion with very few fields remaining. Cotton harvest began.

Cattle remained in good body condition. Stock pond levels were still low. Supplemental feed was needed for livestock on pasture. Nearly all counties reported poor soil moisture and poor rangeland and pasture conditions. Overall crop and livestock conditions were fair in the majority of counties.

ROLLING PLAINS: Scattered rains fell across parts of the district with amounts ranging from 0.75 of an inch to 6 inches, while some counties reported no rainfall. Although rain may be too late for summer crops, it was needed for fall planting. Most dryland cotton was plowed up, while irrigated cotton was fair to good. Green-up and forage growth was good in areas that received rain.

Ranchers were still downsizing cow herds due to lack of hay. There were concerns about prussic acid poisoning in forage sorghums. Wildfires were still a concern in the drier counties.

COASTAL BEND: Hot, dry weather continued to deplete soil moisture. Rice and corn harvests continued. Extremely high aflatoxin levels were reported in several corn fields. Soybean and sorghum harvest neared completion. Cotton harvest continued with a majority of cotton being defoliated. Yields of cotton were average or below at 1-1.5 bales per acre.

Native pecans were dropping nuts prematurely due to hot, dry weather conditions. Hay making was in full swing though yields were not promising. Pasture conditions continued to deteriorate and supplemental feeding increased. Cattle remained in fair to good condition despite short forage availability.

EAST: Many counties received small, sporadic rainfall that did not improve deteriorating conditions throughout the district. San Augustine County reported no rainfall, while Jasper County reported good summer rains but overall dry conditions. Surface water was a problem for most producers in the district as ponds and creeks were drying up.

Pasture and rangeland conditions were fair in Polk, Shelby, Jasper, San Augustine and Gregg counties, and all others reported poor to very poor conditions. Trinity County reported concerns about a lack of grass growth. Wood County reported hay was difficult to find, forcing producers to ship it in. Smith, Marion, Gregg and Cherokee county producers continued to seek hay despite high prices.

Topsoil conditions were adequate in San Augustine and Gregg counties, and were short to very short in all other counties. Subsoil conditions were adequate in San Augustine and Gregg counties while all other counties reported short to very short conditions. Cherokee, Gregg and Smith county producers continued to cull cattle. Trinity County conditions forced some producers to sell out completely and others to worry about the near future if conditions don’t change.

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Gregg County reported calf prices were up per hundredweight, and prices for cows remained steady. Shelby County reported large numbers of cattle at their sale barn. Armyworms continued to eat what little grass came back with recent rains in Shelby, Houston and Henderson counties.

Houston County reported multiple fields were wiped out, and many producers lost their next cutting of hay due to armyworms. Fly numbers continued to be high in Henderson County. Wood and Henderson counties reported wild pig control was ongoing.

SOUTH PLAINS: Subsoil and topsoil moisture levels remained adequate to short. Some areas received 1-3 inches of rainfall, but rains were spotty and there were still many areas that missed moisture. Cotton growth ranged from beginning bloom to hard cut-out with zero nodes above white flower. Producers were concerned cotton bolls would develop poorly or drop over the next several days.

Bollworm activity was noted along with a few reports of aphids in several fields, including Bt cotton. Producers were conducting pest and weed management. Grain sorghum continued to be scouted regularly for sugarcane aphid activity. Peanuts, sorghum and sunflowers continued to mature. Producers were preparing to plant winter wheat. Pastures and rangelands remained fair to poor. Area crops needed rain. Cattle continued to be in good condition.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were near average. Moisture was received, but more was needed throughout the district. Soil moisture was mostly short. Amounts ranged from a trace to 2 inches in some areas. Rainfall was beneficial to crops, pastures and rangelands. Irrigation of crops continue. The corn crop was wrapping up with most fields in good shape with recent rainfall and irrigations to finish up the year.

The cotton crop was all over the board with some fields already blooming out the top and several fields still having growth regulators applied to them. The cotton looked good in general. Silage harvest was starting with some early planted corn fields being sampled. Producers were starting to plant early wheat and hoping for rain to provide grazing. Lightning caused fires in pastures. Pasture and cattle conditions continued to decline in drier areas.

NORTH: Most counties received 1-5 inches of much needed rain, but intense heat with high humidity was reported. Pastures went from brown to green very quickly. Improved pastures, such as Bermuda and Klein grass, were thriving and should provide another cutting of hay. Some ponds were replenished, but others were still very low.

Corn and grain sorghum harvests were delayed due to rain. Wheat and oat crops were excellent, while corn and sorghum were below average. Livestock looked good. Insect numbers were high due to recent rains and were causing light stress on the cattle. Some ranchers in Hopkins County reported fall armyworms.

FAR WEST: Temperatures were in the upper 90s with lows in the 60s. Rainfall averaged a trace to 4 inches. Insect problems on pecan trees were reported. Mosquito numbers were up. Fire danger was still a concern in many parts. Remaining cotton and rangelands should benefit from the rainfall. Conditions were still dry, but drought was no longer severe. Producers continued to water cotton and pecans. Winter wheat was being planted on numerous farms.

WEST CENTRAL: Rangeland and pastures greened up due to recent rains. Despite forage growth, forage availability was still short. Stock tanks remained low or dry and in need of runoff. Livestock were in fair condition with many producers already providing supplemental feed due to lack of grazing. Stocker steers and heifers sold $2 higher, while packer cows, bulls, feeder steers and feeder heifers sold steady. Pairs and bred cow prices were up.

SOUTHEAST: No report.

SOUTHWEST: Most counties received some rainfall last week, but not enough to make a huge difference. Pastures and range conditions continued to decline. Livestock producers continued to supplement with hay. Wildfire potential was still a concern.

SOUTH: Most parts of the district reported a continuation of hot and dry weather conditions with short to very short soil moisture levels. Temperatures reached 100 degrees consistently in some areas. Western portions of the district received scattered rain showers and reported adequate to short soil moisture levels. Producers continued to irrigate crops. Irrigated crops like Coastal Bermuda grass, watermelons and cantaloupes looked to be in good condition. Pecan orchards were in fair condition.

Dryland cotton harvest continued, and irrigated cotton was defoliated. Pasture and rangeland conditions started to green up a little following recent rainfall, but livestock supplemental feeding continued. Pasture and rangeland conditions continued to deteriorate in drier areas. Surface water levels were declining with the summer heat, and horn fly populations were increasing. Body condition scores on cattle remained fair. Corn and sorghum harvests were nearing completion.

Livestock producers reported supplemental feeding of livestock would continue until areas that received rainfall improved. Some producers were hauling water, and many producers began to cull their herds. Wildlife were being fed.


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