West Texas and Coastal Bend ag producers facing challenges
COLLEGE STATION – The new year has found many Texas farmers and ranchers in West Texas and the Coastal Bend regions facing the same conditions they have experienced over the last three years: drought.
Without timely or above-average rainfall this spring and early summer, crop production in many parts of Texas is likely to be at best “marginal” in 2014, 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.
“And long-range climatic forecasts find no clear pattern to suggest above or below normal precipitation, with the exception of Far West Texas, which shows a significant probability of below-normal precipitation over the next three months,” he said.
East Texas and the Blacklands region are in pretty good shape as far as soil moisture profiles are concerned, but the Rolling Plains, much of the Panhandle and Far West Texas, the South Plains, Coastal Bend, and South Texas remained far behind in rainfall, Miller said.
“The soils are dry from last year,” he said. “They never got enough rain to recharge soils, and the winter wheat crop and cool season forages are struggling right now. The irrigated wheat looks pretty good. But the dryland wheat has marginal stands and very poor growth.”
After years of short crop after short crop, producers and Miller’s AgriLife Extension colleagues are studying what could be done in the way of alternative cropping systems and crops.
“Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do without moisture, as far as agriculture is concerned,” Miller said. “The livestock producers aren’t doing much better than the crop producers. If you can’t grow grass, you can’t have very many cattle out there.”
Another problem that’s causing great concern for agriculture and urban water supplies is continued low reservoir levels.
“Many are not much more than mud puddles right now,” 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: Temperatures ranged from the 20s to 84 degrees, with some areas receiving snow and ice. Crops were in good condition. Livestock producers continued feeding hay. More producers were taking soil samples to prepare for spring planting. Field conditions, though somewhat on the dry side, were favorable for tillage and fertilizer applications. Farmers were preparing equipment for corn planting, which was expected to start in about 2 1/2 weeks. Cattle remained in good condition.
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