Drought further recedes but winter wheat challenged in areas
“Unfortunately, the High Plains received little of these beneficial rains, and wheat producers struggled to get their crop up and out of the ground this fall,” Neely said. “Drought-stressed wheat also had to endure frigid temperatures during the past month, which have some concerned about the possibility of winterkill on small wheat.”
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: Sporadic winter weather made crop conditions fluctuate. Some oats and wheat were damaged by freezing weather in December. Stock-tank water levels were getting low. Pecan yields were very low, averaging 350 pounds per acre.
Coastal Bend: The region was misty, rainy and cold most of the week. Temperatures were at freezing or a degree below at times. Growers continued preparing fields for spring crops where conditions permitted. Recent rains were expected to generate new growth in winter pastures and cool-season row crops. However, many livestock ponds remained low and needed runoff from a major rain. Some areas got from 1 inch to 3 inches of rain. Hayfield aeration tillage continued. Slow rains associated with fronts have brought slow drizzling rain to western counties. This made an excess of moisture on the topsoil for a few days. For some areas, December was extremely dry, and soil moisture conditions greatly diminished.
East: The region experienced very cold temperatures. Heavy frosts slowed forage growth. Some counties reported freeze damage to winter pastures. Soil-moisture levels remained adequate. Ponds were full, and some pastures had standing water. Preparation of fields for vegetable planting was hampered due to the wet conditions. Panola County reported abundant moisture, allowing a recharge of the aquifer. Cattle were in good shape. Producers were feeding more hay than normal. The calving season continued. Feral hogs were active.
Far West: Mornings were cool and afternoons warm. About 85 percent of grain sorghum was harvested in some areas. The cotton and pecan harvests were completed. Producers were readying fields for the upcoming cotton season. With pasture grasses dormant, ranchers had to provide supplemental feeding and large amounts of minerals.
North: Topsoil moisture was adequate across the region, with surplus moisture in some counties. The week started out very cold with a strong arctic front that brought drizzle and rain, which deterred most farming activity. Fields in several counties remained wet and mostly inaccessible due to muddy conditions. Wheat was in fair to good condition. Grayson County reported problems with wheat yellowing due to fertility issues and wet soils. Livestock were generally in good condition with supplemental feeding. Camp, Kaufman and Morris counties reported damage to fields by feral hogs.
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