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Agriculture Today

Rains green things up, but come too late for small grains

Rains green things up, but come too late for small grains
Central Texas rains came too late for many small-grain crops, said Jared Ripple, Texas AgriLife Extension Service integrated pest management agent for Willamson County. Though this wheat looks good and golden, plants are stunted and stands are thin.

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May 24, 2011
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Rain came to many parts of the state, giving some relief to drought-stricken crops and pastures, and -- temporarily at least -- alleviating the danger of wildfire, according to a May 17 Texas AgriLife Extension Service press release.

The consensus among Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel and farmers located where rain was received was that it came too late to save small-grain crops, and more rain will be needed soon for any substantial improvement in pasture and hay land.

Parts of Central Texas received from a trace to 4 inches of rain on May 13. About 1 inch was more common, as was received at Davidson Brothers Farms, just east of Georgetown. The Davidson Brothers, Dennis and Buster, and son Dustin, raise stocker cattle and grow hay, as well as some corn and cotton.

“Our biggest rain since January was yesterday at about eight-tenths,” Dennis said. “We had 8 inches of rain in a two-day period in September, which was enough moisture to get our oats up for grazing. But we didn’t have another good rain until Christmas Eve.”

Then there were small rains near the end of January, which they have “been pretty much living on” until the recent 0.9 inch rain, he said.

“Corn: It’s deceiving if you look at it. It’s green, and if you don’t know much about farming, you’ll think it’s alright,” Dennis said. “But if you look at it right now, it’s starting to tassle and it’s not even waist-high, so that’s not going to make any grain. I don’t even think it’ll put an ear out.”

Dennis said they will probably either bale or ensile their corn. But because it won’t likely make any grain, the silage will not be of any quality, and will mainly be a filler-feed.

Local wheat was in similar condition, said Jared Ripple, AgriLife Extension integrated pest management agent for Williamson County. The crop may look good and golden from the road, but plants are stunted and stands thin. The crop is apparently making grain, but yields will be well below average.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported parts of the region received rain, from a trace to as much as 4 inches in a few areas, but overall the region remained very dry. The storms that brought the rain also lowered daytime temperatures and reduced the risk of wildfire, but without more rain, the region will soon have high risks of wildfire again. Irrigated corn, sorghum, peanuts, sunflowers, cotton, pecan, grape, peach, sod, and landscape nursery crops made good progress, but water-pumping costs were high. Pastures and rangeland that received rain were expected to green up, but there was little moisture deep in the soil profile. Forage availability remained below average and livestock that had not already been sold off still required supplemental feeding. Large numbers of white-tailed and axis deer browsing highway roadsides at night posed serious hazards for motorists.

Compiled from Texas A&M University and Texas AgriLife Extension Service reports.

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