Drought further recedes but winter wheat challenged in areas
South Plains: The region remained very dry. Because of high winds and no rain, the National Weather Service issued fire warnings for the region over the weekend. Winds reached 45 mph on Jan. 10, and the region had its first sandstorm of the year. The weather was a roller coaster ride for the past month.. On Jan. 6, lows were in the single digits with highs barely reaching the freezing mark. By Jan. 12, highs were in the 70s. Most counties were still reporting drought conditions. The exception was Crosby County, which reported “decent” soil-moisture levels. The 2013 precipitation total for Lubbock County was 12.6 inches—about 5 inches below average. Most cotton was harvested, with only a few gins still running. Winter wheat, pastures and rangeland continued to be in poor to fair condition. Many farmers were grazing cattle on wheat where possible, as well as cotton stalks and grain stubble. Producers were doing general fieldwork to prepare for spring planting, including stalk shredding, bed shaping and tilling.
Southeast: Cold weather came to the region, along with varying amounts of rain in many areas. Soil-moisture levels throughout the region varied widely, mostly in the adequate range, with some counties reporting from 30 to 80 percent surplus. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely too, from poor to excellent, with fair to good ratings being the most common. In Galveston County, unusually cold weather may have set new record seasonal lows. In Madison County, the tank and river levels were high from rain runoff. Erosion of dams and rangeland has occurred throughout the county causing some issues that will need to be addressed to maintain stock-tank viability. Before the rains, standing water in pastures and rangeland had drained, but afterwards fields were fully saturated again. Chambers County got 0.5 inch of rain; Lee County 0.25. Madison County received good rains that helped soil-moisture levels, but total rainfall was still behind average. Brazoria County had been somewhat dry for the past two or three weeks, but the recent rains helped a lot. Livestock there were in good condition. Row crop producers were fertilizing fields after the rains. Orange County had significant rains and warmer weather after the freezing temperatures. Forage conditions remained poor. In Montgomery County, wheat and oats looked good due to continued moisture. Pecan yields were minimal, and pasture conditions remain steady. In Brazos County, row crop producers were doing fieldwork. Cool-season forages there were in good condition, which meant producers only had to feed limited hay. In Waller County the arctic cold spell left many farmers scrambling to put out hay. Some farmers may run short on hay this year. Chambers County producers were feeding large quantities of hay, though supplies there remained strong. The cattle in Chambers County were being fed hay in large quantities. Hay supplies were still readily available there too.