Rains help, but drought maintains its stubborn hold
COLLEGE STATION -- Is Texas still in a drought? It depends upon where you are and whom you talk to, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor and reports from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agents across the state.
Despite rains -- substantial in some cases -- drought still had a hold on much of Texas. According to the June 4 U.S. Drought Monitor, more than 87 percent of the state was still suffering from moderate, severe, extreme, or exceptional drought.
The areas with the worse drought conditions remained the Panhandle, parts of the South Plains, South, and the Southwest regions.
Many parts of the state received rain since the monitor’s June 4 report, and more recent reports from AgriLife Extension county agents reflect the effects of the added moisture. But the rain was by no means equally distributed. In the Panhandle, for example, agents reported the rain in some counties measured in inches, while others got no more than a sprinkle.
The day after high temperatures of 106 degrees were recorded on June 4, Lubbock County was visited by a line of severe thunderstorms and extremely high, damaging winds, reported Mark Brown, AgriLife Extension agent. The storms brought as much as 2 inches of rain, which helped crops, but winds as high as 84 mph damaged structures, toppled trees, and overturned many center pivots.
In East Texas, the thunderstorms were more benign, bringing only rain and greening up grass and promoting hay growth, reported Chad Gulley, AgriLife Extension agent for Smith County, in Tyler.
In much of West Texas, rains did little more than settle the dust, as Norman Fryar, AgriLife Extension agent in Pecos County, reported.
Many South Texas counties reported rain since June 4, but as George Gonzales, AgriLife Extension agent for Webb County in Laredo, reported, with highs in the 100- to 103-degree range all week long, evaporation rates were very high.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries for the week of June 4-10:
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported recent rains and favorable weather improved the condition of livestock, rangeland, and row crops throughout the region. Although rain totals varied, generally there was enough to provide ample soil moisture for grass and crop growth. Wheat and oats were still being harvested. Some of the later peaches that survived the freezes were ripening. With temperatures climbing, more precipitation was needed to maintain soil-moisture levels and further promote drought recovery.
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported scattered showers occurred across the region, accompanied in some instances with marble-sized hail, though no significant damage was reported. In some areas, row crops, rangeland, and pastures improved with the added moisture. Cotton was in fair condition. Early planted grain sorghum began to ripen, and corn entered the dent stage. Small amounts of hay were being baled. Pond levels remained low.
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.