You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
‘Death ridge’ moves westward; high- and low-temperature records broken
Latest estimates are that cotton plantings will be down 13 percent this year, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomists.
COLLEGE STATION -- Heat-wise, Texas had a roller coaster ride the last days of June and the first week of July.
During the last few days of June, temperatures were extremely high in much of the state, stressing row crops, pastures, rangeland ,and livestock, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
In some areas, historic records were broken the last week of June. In San Antonio, a 108-degree day was the highest since the 1800s, when records began to be taken, said Aaron Treadway, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in New Braunfels. But during the first days of July, it was record lows that were broken.
“It’s been pretty much a roller coaster ride of extreme temperatures,” Treadway said. “It’ll warm back up as we get into the middle of July, and we’ll see temperatures back in the century mark.”
Last week, the same high-pressure zone that is blocking cooler air from the north and causing extremely hot weather on the West Coast, was behind the extreme highs in Texas, Treadway noted.
The summer high-pressure zone is what meteorologists call the “death ridge,” he said, as it not only blocks cool fronts but moisture as well.
Death-ridge conditions are not that much out of the ordinary; they just came a little earlier this year, and will likely return mid-July, he said.
The week or so of extremely high, near-record-breaking temperatures combined with drought conditions during the last half of June were hard on all crops, said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension agronomist and Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences associate department head.
“Particularly, we had a lot of corn that was just finishing grain-fill here in Central Texas, so I imagine we’ll finish off with lower test weights, a little less starch packed in those kernels, so we’ll have lower yields and test weights,” Miller said.
In much of the Panhandle and parts of the South Plains, the high temperatures and drought were hard on cotton, he said.
“There has been a series of showers go through there,” he said. “If you were where it dropped those 2 inches, you were in somewhat better shape. But if you were missed, the extremely high temperatures and short soil moisture are really challenging you to keep up with irrigation. Virtually no place in the High Plains do we have full irrigation; we just have supplemental irrigation, and if we don’t get rain to go with it, you can’t keep up.”
There were also places where high winds blew out young cotton plants, and other instances where there was hail damage, Miller noted.
“Latest estimates indicate that there are 13 percent less cotton acres planted this year, with a lot being replanted with sorghum and alternative crops such as sunflower, sesame, and guar,” Miller said.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries for the week of June 25 through July 1:
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported the region was extremely hot and dry with record highs. A few counties received showers during the last weekend of June. Some crops were showing signs of drought stress. In other areas, grain sorghum and corn were in good condition, and harvested hay still showed good quality and yields. Cotton was making good progress. The sunflower harvest was in progress. Some sesame was up and growing. Pastures continued to improve where there was rain, but more moisture was needed. Livestock producers continued to provide supplemental feed.
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported oppressively hot, dry weather settled over the area, causing a rapid decrease of soil moisture, and stressing crops and livestock. Some counties were harvesting corn and sorghum as the triple-digit temperatures sped up the maturation of both crops. Ranchers were still feeding range cubes and hay as pastures deteriorated because of the ongoing drought. There was some rain reported over the weekend, but none was forecast for the first week of July.
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.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Agriculture Today Archives
Bermuda grass stem maggot spreads in Texas (July 29, 2015)
Floresville FFA members receive degrees, Walrath scholarship (July 29, 2015)
Hay & Forage Report (July 29, 2015)
Livestock Market Reports (July 29, 2015)
Roses suffer from heat (July 29, 2015)
Senate, House spending bills signal support for industry (July 29, 2015)
TDA Market Report (July 29, 2015)
Texas farmer to lead corn group (July 29, 2015)
Time to prepare for hurricane season (July 29, 2015)
‘Where Does Our Food Come From?’ (July 29, 2015)
Crow is 15th in the nation (July 22, 2015)
Have you seen a Texas horned lizard? (July 22, 2015)
Hay & Forage Report (July 22, 2015)
Landscaping picks (July 22, 2015)
Livestock Market Reports (July 22, 2015)
Offices issue receipts (July 22, 2015)
Recent rains — fewer grasshoppers! (July 22, 2015)
Stallman announces departure in January (July 22, 2015)
TDA Market Report (July 22, 2015)
Benefits of the Chinese pistache (July 15, 2015)
Cattle market outlook, trends short course (July 15, 2015)
Conservation assistance online for landowners, users (July 15, 2015)
Crouch Memorial Bull Riding is July 25 (July 15, 2015)
Hay & Forage Report (July 15, 2015)
Livestock Market Reports (July 15, 2015)
Mischief-maker transforms into equine world champion (July 15, 2015)
TDA Market (July 15, 2015)
Wardens investigate alligator attack (July 15, 2015)
Ag-Pro continues John Deere tradition (July 8, 2015)
Cattlemen, Floresville FFA unite (July 8, 2015)
Hay & Forage Report (July 8, 2015)
Livestock Market Reports (July 8, 2015)
Locals attend conference (July 8, 2015)
Much of peach crop excellent quality, quantity (July 8, 2015)
Nomination period open for farm committee (July 8, 2015)
TDA Market Report (July 8, 2015)
Things farmers do when it rains (July 8, 2015)
Two-part water conservation landscaping workshop in SA (July 8, 2015)
U.S. cattle herd safety threatened by Brazilian beef importation? (July 8, 2015)
West Nile virus vaccine in horses (July 8, 2015)
Will new driveway affect live oak? (July 8, 2015)
Hay & Forage Report (July 1, 2015)
July 2015 Gardening Calendar (July 1, 2015)
Livestock Market Reports (July 1, 2015)
Native anaqua is a tasty treat for wildlife (July 1, 2015)
TDA Market Report (July 1, 2015)
Texas railway raises concerns on eminent domain (July 1, 2015)
Third time's a charm for Buck Taylor roping (July 1, 2015)