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Most Texas cotton, irrigated or dryland, could use rain soon
Cotton ground in the lower Brazos Valley near Snook was beginning to crack by June 5 from lack of rain.
By Robert Burns
The drought situation in the western half of Texas remained largely unchanged, but abnormally dry weather reclaimed large parts of the eastern half of the state during the last week of May, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor and Texas AgriLife Extension Service reports.
After good rains a few weeks ago, South Texas also turned drier, with moderate drought to abnormally dry weather stretching from the Lower Rio Grande Valley up the Coastal Bend area.
A drier trend is hard on all crops, but it comes at a critical time for cotton in many parts of the state, said Dr. Gaylon Morgan of College Station, AgriLife Extension statewide cotton specialist.
It was a different story in the northern and southern portions of the Rolling Plains, he said, where it’s mainly dryland farming. The producers he talked to last week were holding back on planting, hoping to get enough moisture to at least get the crop up.
South Texas cotton is starting to flower, but rains have been scanty for the last couple of weeks. Morgan was visiting Jackson County for a field day on June 4, and said the cotton looked great.
Though the majority of cotton is grown in the South Plains and Rolling Plains, more than a half million acres are grown between the Coastal Bend and the Lower Rio Grande Valley, according to Morgan.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries for the May 28 to June 4 period:
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported hot and dry weather continued, and soils were drying out. Corn, milo, and cotton needed rain. The wheat and oat harvests were finished. The hay harvest continued. Peaches were still looking good.
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported high temperatures, and no rain stressed row crops. Cotton reached the cutout stage early in some locations due to lack of moisture. Corn and sorghum were wilting. Growers with irrigation capability were watering crops. Pecan growers expected a good crop with little damage from case bearers. The grape crop also looked good with only slight problems from a few more of the common fungi, such as powdery mildew. Grape yields were expected to be high as fruit was enlarging and sugar content rising. Farmers were taking the first cutting of Bermuda grass and Bahiagrass. Many ponds had aquatic vegetation, and trees were still showing signs of stress and dying from last year’s drought.
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the South District, including Atascosa County, report temperatures above 90 degrees and persistent winds that rapidly dried up soil moisture. Soil-moisture conditions were short to very short except in a few counties. In Atacosa, the county was 50 to 60 percent adequate and peanut planting was in full swing.
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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