Cotton outlook mixed
In addition to being drought-stressed, a lot of young cotton plants in the Coastal Bend area are being beaten up — sandblasted — by wind-driven sand, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service cotton expert.
Despite recent storms, most of the state -- and large parts of its cotton-growing regions -- remained under severe to extreme drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
In many areas, there hasn’t been enough moisture for cotton farmers to plant. In South Texas, the situation is mixed, with some plantings completed and some delayed as farmers waited for enough soil moisture to risk using expensive seed, according to Dr. Gaylon Morgan, Texas AgriLife Extension Service state cotton specialist in College Station.
“As you go from Corpus Christi south, I think virtually all that got planted,” he said. “As you move into the upper Gulf Coast, 60 percent to 70 percent of that got planted over a month ago, but basically, then they stopped planting, waiting for moisture.”
Though they didn’t get the rains that parts of Texas got from April 25 storms, many upper Gulf Coast farmers are in the fields again because they’re coming up against their planting deadline, Morgan said.
“The other thing that is going on with the high winds is that a lot of these young cotton plants are getting beaten up -- sandblasted,” he said.
Everything else is pretty much on hold, as far as planting goes, including the southern Blacklands. For some, as in the Blacklands, it’s the lack of moisture that has made farmers hold back.
In the Rolling Plains, South Plains, and Panhandle, the typical beginning planting date is not until May 1, Morgan said.
“So the drought has not delayed planting for these major production regions yet, but the producers do not have any subsoil moisture and are quite concerned as time for planting approaches,” he said.
Morgan said that during a Texas Cotton Producers meeting he attended last Monday, the consensus was that drought or no drought, cotton acreage was still going to be up, just because prices are so high.
“As a matter of fact, some of the wheat that has been in such poor condition, they decided they were just going to graze it out and plant cotton into it, or they’re going to destroy it with Roundup and plant cotton into it,” he said. “I heard guys guessing that 10 percent of their wheat acres are going to go into cotton in the South Plains and Rolling Plains.”
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported that the region remained completely dry, with nearly 60 days since the last rain of about 0.2 inch. Red alerts continue to be issued throughout the region with flashing signs banning open fires and warnings of extreme wildfire risk. Hot weather with mid-afternoon temperatures in the low 90s and high, dry winds increased the risk of roadside and field fires. San Antonio was in Stage 1 water rationing. Spring wheat under irrigation made good progress. Irrigated corn, sorghum, peanuts, sunflowers, and cotton were all doing well, but dryland spring crops failed. The harvesting of cabbage, lettuce, and spinach began to wind down. Onions, cantaloupes, watermelons, green beans, potatoes, and sweet corn made good progress under heavy irrigation. Pastures and rangeland grasses remained brown and dormant. Forage availability was below average.
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported that continued extremely warm, dry, and windy weather stressed cotton, corn, and sorghum. High winds compounded the poor soil-moisture situation by beating the withering field crops. Dry conditions hindered further plantings and were jeopardizing yield potentials. Pastures were also showing the effects of the drought. Bluebonnet season has come and gone with very little show compared to the usual fanfare. Livestock producers continued to supplement cattle with hay and protein.
Compiled from Texas A&M University and Texas AgriLife Extension Service reports.