Central Texas wheat took a freeze hit, but it could be worse
South: Soil-moisture conditions were mostly very short, except for northern counties where they ranged from short to very short. Severe thunderstorms moved through the northern parts of the region, bringing strong winds but little rain. There generally was not enough rainfall to significantly improve soil-moisture levels, rangeland and pastures. In many areas, livestock producers continued reducing herds as the drought continued, grazing further declined and supplemental feed prices remained high. Some western counties received rain, from 0.5 inch to 2.5 inches in Dimmit County, 0.5 inch in Maverick County, and 0.5 to 1 inch in Zavala County. Though welcome, the rains were not enough to make a dent in drought conditions. In Maverick County, winter oats and wheat matured. In Zavala County, irrigators were able to put a temporary hold on watering cotton, sorghum, corn and cabbage because of the rain. Also in that area, cabbage harvesting was halted due to the rain, and livestock producers saw some pastures greening up. Frio County corn, potato and wheat fields were damaged by hail from the thunderstorms. In Jim Wells County, all corn was planted with 25 percent of it emerged. Also in that county, 75 percent of the sorghum crop and 50 percent of the cotton crop was planted. In Hidalgo County, growers continued harvesting sugarcane, citrus and vegetables, with the onion harvest being the most active. In Starr County, all dryland row crops continue to suffer from the drought.
South Plains: The region remained very dry with little to no rainfall. Some greenbug infestations and virus damage to wheat was reported, as well as freeze damage. Freeze damage was not expected to be significant because secondary tillers will compensate for the damage in most fields. Producers continued preparing fields for spring planting; some began to pre-water. Despite needing rain, there was some growth of warm-season grasses in low-lying areas because of prior rains. Cattle were in mostly good condition with producers supplying supplemental feeding on cold days.
Southeast: Brazos, Montgomery, Chambers, Fort Bend and Galveston counties all got rain, from 0.5 inch to 3 inches or more, helping crops, raising producers’ spirits and improving soil-moisture levels. In Burleson County, a freeze damaged small grains, and scattered showers and cooler temperatures slowed corn and sorghum growth. Fort Bend County temperatures ranged from lows in the 40s and highs in the 70s. Galveston County had short bouts of hard, heavy weather, including severe thunderstorms with hail damage. The warm temperatures in Orange County supported good forage growth.