You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Even with a wet spring, many pastures unlikely to soon return to full capacity
By Robert Burns
Mother Nature sent many Texas farmers an early spring gift in the form of rain.
According to reports from Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel, there were notable exceptions, but many parts of the state received moisture, further improving pastures and rangeland, and raising soil moisture levels for spring planting.
According to AgriLife Extension county agents, the exceptions were western counties of the Rolling Plains district and large parts of the Panhandle, where soil moisture levels remained mostly short to very short. Far West Texas received some rain, but not nearly enough to improve drought- and fire-damaged pastures. Most areas were still providing supplemental feed to livestock.
The question is, should producers, particularly livestock producers, be optimistic?
“I think they have reason to be optimistic, but it’s dangerous to be overly optimistic,” said Ron Gill, AgriLife Extension livestock specialist, College Station. “Yes, we have improvement in soil moisture, but the problem we haven’t gotten over is the deterioration in pasture and range conditions we experienced last summer and fall.”
Even with a wet spring, it’s likely to be a long time before pastures and rangeland show full recovery, Gill said. Recovery of introduced warm-season pastures will depend upon many things beside just rainfall. The extent of the drought or wildfire damage, the cost of fertilizer, and stocking rates, both past and present, are all factors, according to Gill.
Another factor has to do with how the pastures and rangeland were managed.
Many pastures were stocked to capacity, and producers had to cut back on fertilizer use prior to the drought because of cost. Because prices for cattle were so high, many people tried to not downsize their herds, which led to further deterioration of forage conditions, he said.
Gill said there’s been a lot of conjecture about what the proper land-management strategy is at this time, but most producers are being cautious, knowing that their pastures are knocked back, and worried about the cost of replacements.
Even then, if they jump back into production, and the rainfall patterns don’t hold, they could find themselves stuck with some high-priced replacement cattle needing costly hay.
Robert Burns is an Extension communication specialist and writes for Texas A&M University and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Agriculture Today Archives
County committee nomination period begins (June 22, 2016)
Hartmann takes the steer by the horns to win state championship (June 22, 2016)
La Vernia FFA wraps up school year with honors, scholarships (June 22, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 22, 2016)
Root rot knocks out roses (June 22, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 22, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 22, 2016)
A student’s ag-related journey (June 15, 2016)
Family Land Heritage news (June 15, 2016)
Five dirty truths on agriculture (June 15, 2016)
Horseherb galloping through yards (June 15, 2016)
Kristin Storey: South Texas queen to compete for national title (June 15, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 15, 2016)
Miller announces assistance for farmers devastated by floods (June 15, 2016)
No “rain, rain, go away” as precipitation persists (June 15, 2016)
Schwartz takes lead as Texas state veterinarian (June 15, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 15, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 15, 2016)
Texas Rural Leadership Program (June 15, 2016)
It’s almost rodeo time in Stockdale (June 8, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 8, 2016)
Save seed pods for next fall (June 8, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 8, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 8, 2016)
Big Time Texas Hunts entries now on sale (June 1, 2016)
Burbridge leads the way in Buck Taylor roping event (June 1, 2016)
Farm Bureau solicits AgLead, FarmLead participants (June 1, 2016)
June 2016 Gardening Calendar (June 1, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 1, 2016)
Save squash from vine borers (June 1, 2016)
State Farm Bureau testifies on agricultural use valuation (June 1, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 1, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 1, 2016)