AgriLife agronomist: Crop prospects not good at this time
COLLEGE STATION – Dry topsoil and low subsoil moisture, along with cooler than normal soil temperatures, are having a chilling effect on spring planting, said Dr. Travis Miller, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist and Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences associate department head, College Station.
Most of Texas is going into the fourth year of drought, Miller noted.
Drought ratings edged slightly higher, with 58 percent of the state ranging from moderate to exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor and reports from AgriLife Extension personnel.
“At least in the fall, we had quite a bit of rain across the Blacklands, parts of the Gulf Coast and East Texas,” Miller said. “There’s deep soil moisture there, but in some places it’s getting a bit too dry on the surface for good planting conditions.
Only a few weeks ago in some areas, such as Southeast Texas, fields were too wet to get in to work. But after a couple of dry weeks, a dry or crusty soil surface can still make planting into moisture a challenge.
But for those areas with subsoil moisture, it’s the cooler than normal soil temperatures that pose some concern about late plantings, Miller said.
“Farmers are very hesitant to put very expensive seed in cold soils,” he said.
Though the crop prospects aren’t good at this time, there’s still time for many areas to catch up, Miller said. The corn-planting season began about Valentine’s Day for the Gulf Coast and can be as late as mid-June for the more northern areas of the state.
The Texas High Plains remain the worst hit, he said.
“There are pockets that have some moisture, but overall, the Panhandle, South Plains and Rolling Plains remain very dry,” Miller said.
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/ .
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
Central: Livestock were in good condition with continued supplemental feeding. If moderate temperatures continued, spring green-up was expected to begin soon. Crops were starting to suffer due to the lack of rain. Corn planting was underway. Some trees have begun to bud out with the warmer weather. High winds and little rain increased wildfire danger.
Coastal Bend: High temperatures and strong winds combined to dry out soils and blow plowed fields. Corn planting began in some areas. Wheat showed yellowing as a result of no rain. Because of the cooler weather forecast for this week, some producers have chosen not to start planting. Livestock producers were cutting back on feeding hay due to lack of availability.
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