Most crops recover from freeze, moisture remains short
The state’s weather did a one-eighty in the last week, going from abnormally cold to unseasonably warm, noted Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
However, the reversal was a mixed blessing. With few exceptions, many counties reported the warm, windy weather acerbated already short to very short soil-moisture levels.
Though the previous hard freezes damaged crops, including wheat, oats, and some vegetables, the ruling agricultural factor continued to be lack of rain.
“Producers are still in a holding pattern from last week,” said Rick Auckerman, AgriLife Extension agent for Deaf Smith County, west of Amarillo. “We went from -7 to 77 degrees in one week’s time! Producers are trying to decide on some of their planting intentions, which will depend on how much rain that we receive this spring. Winter wheat pasture is slim to none at this point, so producers are hunting for any available pasture.”
“The extreme cold has been replaced with unusually warm temperatures for the past week,” said Russell Kott, AgriLife Extension agent for Kimble County, northwest of San Antonio. “No moisture has been reported in the area, and none is expected. Producers with irrigation capabilities have seen winter hay grasses emerge, but little natural forage is available.”
“High spring winds have depleted soil moisture as planting of corn begins,” said Duane Campion, AgriLife Extension agent for San Patricio County, north of Corpus Christi. “There is sufficient moisture at this time, but rainfall will be needed before planting of cotton begins. Pastures have shown slight green-up from the recent freezing temperatures, but again, a lack of moisture is hindering pasture recovery.”
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported it was still too early to estimate the full extent of the damage done to young spinach, onions, and cabbages by the early February freeze. The cabbage harvest resumed late in the second week of February, but spinach suffered damaged tops and had to be shredded. Producers hoped the spinach will regrow and make a harvestable crop. The region remained very dry, with total cumulative rainfall since Aug. 1 about 35 percent of the long-term average for the same period. The August-to-date period was the second-driest on record. High winds aggravated the dry conditions and increased the incidence of roadside fires. Fields were ready for early spring planting, but dryland fields need rain soon to make planting possible. Pastures and rangeland remained winter-dormant. Forage availability was below average. Ranchers were busy with the calving/lambing/kidding season and repairing water lines broken by the freeze.
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported the region had warm days, a little rain, and high winds. Soil-moisture levels were short. Farmers were working fields in preparation for planting season. Corn planting was under way in some areas. Winter wheat looked fair, having survived the last two weeks of cold temperatures. Below-average rainfall and cold weather set back rangeland and pastures considerably, and producers continued to supplement livestock with forage and protein.Compiled from Texas A&M University and Texas AgriLife Extension Service reports.