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Agriculture Today

Additional rain spurs wheat planting, slows some cotton harvest

Additional rain spurs wheat planting, slows some cotton harvest
Wayne Dyches takes advantage of clear weather during the last week of September to apply defoliants to his cotton near Midway.

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October 9, 2013
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By Robert Burns

COLLEGE STATION -- Though much of the state remained under severe drought, rainfall during the last two weeks of September shrank the areas of extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor and reports from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel throughout the state.

The Sept. 24 Drought Monitor showed about 48 percent of the state under severe drought, compared to 64 percent the week before. Extreme drought was reduced from 25 percent to 8 percent for the same time period.

The drought monitor defines “extreme drought” as when there are major crop and pasture losses, and widespread water shortages or restrictions.

Precipitation during the last two weeks ranged from highs of 8 inches or more in much of East Texas and parts of Central and West Central regions, to lows of 0.5 to 1 inch in parts of the Panhandle and Far West Texas, according to the National Weather Service’s precipitation analysis.

Crop reports from AgriLife Extension county agents throughout the state widely varied as to harvest and soil-moisture levels. However, producers in most areas took the improved soil-moisture levels as a cue to plant wheat and small grains for winter grazing -- if they hadn’t already dry planted.

Wheat planted earlier benefited greatly from the rain, but in some areas there were reports of grasshoppers and armyworms damaging the newly emerged crop.

In Central Texas, the cotton harvest was nearly completed, with some delays due to rain, according to AgriLife Extension county agent reports. Cotton in the South Plains was helped by warm weather, but was still approximately 10 days behind in maturity in some areas. Bolls were opening in the Rolling Plains, particularly in dryland fields where moisture was limited until recently.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported cooler temperatures and scattered showers raised soil-moisture levels and improved forages. The condition of livestock improved with the better grazing after the rain. Sheep and goats were doing well going into breeding season. Fall corn made good progress.

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported the region received 0.5 inch to as much as 12 inches of rain in isolated areas, which caused some local flooding, along with damage to roads and fences. However, pasture conditions dramatically improved. Preparations for planting wheat, oats, and ryegrass for winter pastures were in progress. The rain delayed the harvesting of rice and soybeans, but the cotton harvest was already completed. In some areas, there were reports of large populations of armyworms and mosquitoes following the rains.

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the South District, including Atascosa County, reported scattered showers fell throughout the region, with from a trace to as much as 5 inches reported. Where there was substantial rain, grazing conditions improved, supplemental feeding was reduced on the better-managed ranches, and herd culling slowed as producers tried to rebuild breeding herds. Cattle body condition scores were good. With frequent showers and cooler temperatures, soil-moisture levels varied widely throughout the region. Mostly all counties reported 50 to 100 percent adequate levels. The exceptions were McMullen, Maverick, Zavala, Hidalgo, Cameron, and Willacy counties. Atascosa County peanuts were nearly harvest-ready.

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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