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Agriculture Today

South Plains corn, late-planted sorghum doing well despite drought

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Robert Burns
August 28, 2013 | 4,255 views | Post a comment

COLLEGE STATION -- Thanks to recent rains, South Plains corn is in good shape, as is grain sorghum, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

“The rains we’ve had since mid-June have been a tremendous benefit,” said Dr. Calvin Trostle, AgriLife Extension agronomist specializing in corn and sorghum, Lubbock. “Certainly, producers are pushing corn as best they can with irrigation and close attention to spider mite and corn earworm control.”

Producers planted more grain sorghum in West Texas because of earlier projected high prices, but then there was considerably more planted on fields after failed dryland cotton, according to Trostle.

Though numbers of acres actually replanted to grain sorghum after failed cotton are not available, they are substantial, Trostle said. One factor was most of the failed cotton due to drought was on dryland, and grain sorghum was a good option as it can be planted relatively late in the season.

There’s been a substantial amount of haygrazer -- sorghum Sudan -- that’s been planted this year as well, according to Trostle.

“The nice thing about haygrazer is that even though if it’s mid-July, and the opportunity to plant presents itself, we encourage people to go ahead and plant because you don’t have to rely upon physiological seed maturity to have a successful crop,” he said.

In the Lubbock area, about July 5 to 10 is the latest grain sorghum should be planted, Trostle said.

“But we’ve got another couple of weeks with the sorghum forages and be confident we can make a crop,” he said.

Even though the U.S. Drought Monitor map still shows most of the Panhandle and South Plains region in severe to exceptional drought, the maps don’t tell the whole story, Trostle noted.

“The maps can’t show a little spot four miles wide by 10 miles long that has had 10 inches of rain since mid-June,” he said. “There are some spots here and there that have had 8, 9, and 10 inches, and most of that rain has come slow so there’s minimal runoff.”

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported some areas had drought relief with limited rainfall and slightly cooler temperatures. Rangeland and pastures were very dry with little to no green vegetation. Even some drought-tolerant South Texas brush species were dying from years of drought stress. Irrigated row crops remained in good condition as sorghum and corn harvests neared completion. Overall, livestock were in good condition though grazing was becoming very limited.

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported hot, dry conditions persisted in most of the region. Farmers in most of the district began cotton defoliation. The corn harvest was finished and the rice harvest was ongoing. A few areas reported most small-grain fields a total loss. Pastures were declining as there were no significant rains. Ranchers were providing supplemental feed. Late-planted grain sorghum and stubble was being baled.

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the South District, including Atascosa County, reported extremely hot and dry conditions continued throughout the region. Soil-moisture conditions were very-short to short in most counties. The exceptions were Jim Wells and Maverick counties, with both reporting 50 percent adequate levels. Livestock grazing and stock-tank water supplies were becoming more and more difficult to manage throughout the region. Extreme temperatures in the high 90s to 100s continue to affect forage quality and availability of grazing. In Atascosa County, all corn and nearly all grain sorghum was harvested. Most cotton in that county had opened bolls, while peanuts were doing well with only mild disease pressure.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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