Texas LRGV: Temps Bounce Back from Freeze, Moisture Needed

Hi everyone, what a whirlwind of a year this has been already! We saw recording breaking cold temperatures we had not had here in the LRGV since 1989 with a freeze February 15th and 16th dropping temperatures down to 22oF and below with the wind chill. We lost early planted corn, and sorghum in all 3 counties and had several growers replant their acreage.

Our vegetable growers lost many of their leafy green vegetables but seems onions and cabbage made it. Unfortunately, it was our citrus growers who took the hardest hit losing the rest of last year’s crop yet to be harvested and having this year’s crop freeze as well but since then there has been many warm days and signs of life with new green flush growth.

Even though we had the freeze hit us last month we quickly regained heat units with the very warm days that followed, and it has been interesting to see how this year 2021 compares to past years. Remember how 2019 was an odd year that was considerably colder, and our heat units were quite behind, then 2020 last year was considerably hot and we were in a drought early on and thru majority of the growing season.

Now here we are in 2021 and we are behind in our heat units compared to normal years (2017 & 2018) but ahead of 2019 despite of the freeze we received last month.

It has been dry this year 2021, but not as dry as last year 2020 at this time. One thing that hasn’t changed is the winds! The winds have been nonstop with 25 to 35 mph wind gusts for a couple days then we get a calm day but by the next day its windy again.

Growers who have irrigation have been watering fields prior to planting and then after. Soil moisture had been surprisingly good for planting the last three weeks on the very eastside of the Valley along the coast, Willamar, Sebastian areas east of HWY 77, and on the very west side of the Valley such as in the McCook area.

However, with all the wind and high temperatures many dryland growers have yet to plant, and everyone is losing moisture fast or has very little soil moisture left all over the Valley. As I was driving through the middle of the Valley around the Lasara, Lyford, Raymondville areas checking dryland fields for soil moisture, I had to dig very deep only to see minimal moisture to none in fields with rows ready to go but again no moisture present.

We hope to see some rain soon.

Cotton

Many started planting cotton about 2 ½ weeks ago and according to the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication program as of Wednesday March 24th they were showing total current planted acreage at 100,013.1 ac. identified as cotton.

AgFax Weed Solutions


With the majority of acreage being in Cameron County 34,735.4 ac., Hidalgo County 23,388.4 ac., Willacy County 40,525.1 ac., and with remaining acreage in Starr and Zapata Counties. As we continue to plant cotton, we want to encourage producers to leave access around entire perimeter of field to be able to monitor trapping along with applying ground applications in case of weevil detection.

Producers are also asked to please contact Boll Weevil office in their area to report acreage planted in cotton to insure there are no fields that are missed causing potential of weevil infestation. According to Edward Herrera, Zone manager for the LRGV with TBWEF we are currently at very low numbers and have very unique opportunity to advance the eradication effort.

One silver lining with the freeze was it killed all the volunteer cotton we had left over due to hurricane Hanna last year and boll weevil numbers are very low and the TBWEF along with our LRGV growers will strive to keep it that way.

Cotton across the Valley is pretty clean right now. I was scouting last week into this week and we have a lot of cotton just coming up in cotyledon stage up to 3 true leaves.

Along the river in the Progresso area, I was picking up on a couple of adult winged cotton aphids and a few immatures out there but other than that was very clean.  In Progresso, Donna, and Pharr areas though I was picking up on a couple of adult thrips just barely starting to enter the fields on cotyledon cotton.

There are several onion fields being harvested and due to be harvested soon so be mindful to get out next week and check for thrips as they will be looking for new food, hence new emerging cotton.

I did pick up on some ladybug eggs and a couple of adults so that’s always good to see our predators in the field. Cotton was clean from McCook to Willamar and in between as I scouted across the LRGV.

Grain Sorghum

Lots of grain sorghum coming up in all 3 counties as I scouted many fields stages V1 to V7 out there and it too is looking pretty clean. My colleague Holly has been setting traps for fall armyworms and caught some adult moths this week, but I have yet to see any fall armyworm activity in commercial sorghum.

I have not picked up on any sugarcane aphids in commercial sorghum either. However, before the freeze I was finding sugarcane aphids in sorghum buffers around the Weslaco station, after the freeze hit it set them back but as of last Thursday, I was finding some very active healthy sugarcane aphids in sorghum that was growing back.

Corn

Walked through a lot of corn fields coming up, stages vary across the Valley same as sorghum with corn stages of V3 to V7. I was not picking up on any cutworms or other pests of concern. Was very clean.

Sunflowers

Despite the freeze McCook growers managed to replant and even had some sunflower fields make it through the freeze and I saw many nice stands as I scouted around McCook. No pests of concern in sunflowers except for some unwanted birds eating seed in some fields.

Soybeans

This is the first spring that I have encountered a considerable amount of soybean acres in the early growth stages in the Mid Valley. It looked very clean and beautiful stands.




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