Global surface temperatures likely to set a new record this year
Panhandle: Temperatures were near to above average, and winds were high. Soil-moisture levels were mostly short to adequate. Producers were preparing fields for spring plantings, applying manure, compost and commercial fertilizer. Wheat improved from recent moisture, but was in from very poor to good condition, with most counties reporting fair to poor. Rangeland and pastures continued to be mostly in poor condition. In some areas, producers were grazing stocker cattle on wheat fields, but cattle numbers remained down compared to past years.
Rolling Plains: Conditions were favorable in some areas, with soil moisture levels improved. Pastures, rangeland and wheat looked promising thanks to the recent moisture. Ranchers were grazing cattle on wheat to allow pastures to further improve. Winter wheat was in poor to good condition, depending upon when it emerged. Wheat that emerged in the fall was in good condition, but many fields did not emerge until around the first of the year and were behind in growth and may produce below-average yields. Pastures began greening up, and beef producers were hoping for a wet spring to encourage hay production, but the overall picture remained dim in terms of forage supplies. Little hay was available, forcing producers to find alternate means of supplementing cattle. Worries over water have already started due to February and March being drier-than-normal. Stock tanks and area lakes still needed runoff water. Peach trees were blooming.
South: Abnormally high temperatures for March continued, which coupled with high winds, further dried out soils. The northern part of the region had short to very short soil moisture levels, and very short throughout the southern part of the region. In Zavala County, dryland producers were still trying to decide whether to plant crops as there was no subsurface moisture. But producers with irrigation could provide enough moisture for seed to germinate and emerge. The spinach and cabbage harvests continued in that county, with cool morning temperatures promoting growth. Onion crops there were doing well, and cotton planting resumed following pre-planting irrigation. Webb County ranchers further culled herds, in some cases down to 50 or fewer head. Some ranchers in that area are trying to retain as much as their herds as possible with supplemental feed, as were ranchers throughout the region. Stock-tank water levels continued to decline; some tanks were completely dry. In Hidalgo County, the sugarcane, citrus and vegetable harvests continued. Cotton, corn and grain sorghum planting was active there, but progress was severely affected by dry weather and lack of irrigation water. In Starr County, growers were preparing for the onion harvest and irrigating spring vegetable crops. In McMullen County, spring calving progressed well, but forages lacked the nutrients lactating cattle needed, which caused cattle body conditions to decline. In Frio County, farmers were irrigating corn, wheat and potatoes. Planting slowed in Jim Wells County.
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