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Agriculture Today

Many areas backsliding into drought

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Robert Burns
July 3, 2012 | 3,972 views | Post a comment

By Robert Burns

COLLEGE STATION -- While crops were doing reasonably well in Central Texas, much of the rest of the state is backsliding into drought pretty quickly, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert.

“The area north of Waco, up through the (Dallas/Fort Worth) metroplex and a bit east of there, is in probably as good of shape as anywhere,” said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension program leader and associate head of the Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences department. “Go a little south of there, into the Williamson County/Georgetown area -- and it’s pretty darned dry.”

Many counties south of that area haven’t seen a rain since about May 7, Miller noted.

In many areas, including Central Texas and the Brazos County area, the cotton crop is in pretty good shape, he said.

The western Rolling Plains is another really dry area where it’s going to be a moisture-limited crop, Miller said.

On a positive note, wheat was ready for harvest earlier than has ever been seen before, he said. A warm winter allowed some unusually early plantings and a wet spring offset some of the higher temperatures that came later.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Texas Crop Progress and Condition report for June 24, 9 percent of corn was in excellent condition, 51 percent good, 30 percent fair, and 10 percent either poor or very poor.

As for cotton, 5 percent was rated excellent, 31 percent good, 40 percent fair, and 24 percent either poor or very poor.

As for sorghum, 10 percent was in excellent condition, 47 percent good, 28 percent fair, and 15 percent poor or very poor.

As much as 37 percent of pasture and rangeland was rated as being in poor or very poor condition.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported a few counties saw temporary drought relief for pastures and forages thanks to scattered showers, but overall conditions remained very dry. Grasshopper pressure was high. Forbs and grasses went dormant and produced seed. Even brush was showing signs of heat and water stress, and was losing color. Many brush species were producing seed. Pastures continued to deteriorate, and and row crops began to show moisture stress. Cattle restocking rates remained low. Corn was drying down. Cotton began to set bolls.

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported in the northern part of the region, afternoon and early evening thundershowers brought much-needed rain and lower temperatures. Cotton was blooming, and sorghum was changing colors. Producers were baling hay. However, in the southern part of the region, extremely dry conditions prevailed. Many corn and grain sorghum fields were total losses. Pastures were dry, with only one cutting of hay taken to date. Herd liquidation was ongoing. Ranchers continued supplemental feeding of hay where the stocking rates were high and pasture conditions low. Pecans looked good.

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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