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Agriculture Today

South Plains cotton farmers ‘planting like gangbusters’

South Plains cotton farmers ‘planting like gangbusters’

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June 6, 2012
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By Robert Burns

COLLEGE STATION -- Though the areas of extreme and severe drought shrank further, large parts of Texas remained either in one stage of drought or abnormally dry, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor and Texas AgriLife Extension Service reports.

Producers throughout the state continued to make hay, and plant cotton and other crops, according to weekly reports from AgriLife Extension county agents throughout the state. Cattle were generally in fair to good condition in most regions. Some livestock producers were restocking herds, but doing so at a cautious rate, concerned that the weather will turn dry again.

In the South Plains, where the majority of the Texas cotton crop is grown, the situation is certainly better than last year, said Mark Kelley, AgriLife Extension cotton specialist in Lubbock. Producers are actively planting throughout the region but aware they are still in a drought.

Despite large swaths of the region rated as being in either a moderate or severe drought, there are areas where things look “really good,” he said.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported the weather was warm and windy, which was quickly drying out soils. Hay was harvested, and the peach crop was very good, with much roadside-stand activity. Grasshopper populations rose enough to cause treatment of field crops to begin.

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported temperatures were above normal with no rain reported. Some cotton was being cultivated; all crops needed rain. Sorghum showed signs of drought stress. Some producers were cutting it for hay. The recent dry spell was causing wilting in many grain crops. Most corn and sorghum growers who had wells were laying pipe to furrow irrigate. Pasture conditions remained steady. Many producers reported problems with aquatic weeds in their ponds, including filamentous algae and duckweed. There were more reports of trees not recovering from last year’s drought and dying.

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the South District, including Atascosa County, reported receiving 10 inches of rain in Atascosa County. No rain was reported in the rest of the region. Soil-moisture levels were 50 to 100 percent adequate in the northern and southern parts of the region and short to very short throughout the eastern and western areas. Rangeland and pastures were in good condition but high evaporation rates and temperatures and persistent winds were quickly drying them out. Cattle were mostly in fair condition, with prices for replacements high. Jim Wells County reported $1,000 being offered for bred cows. Most ranches remained destocked on cattle and were expected to remain so for quite some time. Supplemental feeding of cattle with hay, molasses, and range cubes continued. Well water remained the primary source of water for livestock and wildlife in some areas. In Atascosa County, corn was tasseling, cotton was blooming, and a lot of hay was being baled.

Robert Burns has nearly 30 years’ experience writing about agriculture and agricultural-related research. He writes about Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service activities at the Overton Center and centers in Stephenville and Temple.

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