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Agriculture Today

Rainfall brings little relief to parched Texas

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June 8, 2011 | 3,096 views | Post a comment

COLLEGE STATION -- A few areas received rain, but except for parts of North Central and extreme Northeast Texas, the state continued to suffer from moderate to exceptional drought, according the U.S. Drought monitor.

Even where the drought had lifted, Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel reported shortages of hay and damaged crops from lack of rain earlier, according to the June 1 Texas crop and weather report.

All of the Panhandle remained in a severe to exceptional drought. A report from Mike Bragg, AgriLife Extension agent for Dallam County, northwest of Amarillo, was typical of agent reports from the region for the last week of May.

“Two fires up at reporting time. ... One that consumed 15,280 acres -- cause unknown. The other burned 600 acres and was caused by downed power poles due to extreme winds,” Bragg said. “Critical fire danger weather conditions are likely this weekend. Farmers were busy irrigating summer crops, completing planting of corn and cotton, and haying wheat and alfalfa.”

Likewise, the report from Pasquale Swaner, AgriLife Extension agent for Falls County, east of Temple, typified Central Texas conditions.

“Some rainfall fell across the county this past week,” Swaner said. “Temperatures are 95-plus, with high humidity levels. Farmers are harvesting the last of the wheat and oats this week. Corn and milo are stressed due to the lack of rainfall throughout the growing season. Stocker operators are shipping cattle out to feedlots. This week should be the last of cattle to be shipped out by stockers.”

In South Texas, extremely hot weather was rapidly drying out areas that received rain earlier in the month.

“Any improvements from mid-May showers have dried up with prolonged triple-digit weather,” said Caleb Eaton, AgriLife Extension agent for Zapata County. “Water levels at Falcon Lake continue to drop at a staggering pace.”

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:

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported signs of improvement were disappearing from rains two weeks ago, and the region remained very dry. Temperatures in the 90s and high winds aggravated drought conditions. Irrigated corn, sorghum, peanuts, sunflowers, cotton, sweet corn, cantaloupes, watermelons, pecans, grapes, peaches, sod, and landscape crops made good progress under heavy irrigation but at high pumping costs. Pastures and rangeland grasses were growing after a rain a week ago, but that growth ceased as there was little moisture deep in the soil profile. Forage availability remained below average. Producers had sold much of their livestock and were providing supplemental feed to the remaining cattle. Large numbers of wildlife were browsing highway roadsides at night, creating hazards for motorists.

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

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