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Recent rains further alleviate drought
COLLEGE STATION -- Though much of the state remained in one stage of drought or another, rains during the last few weeks greatly alleviated the severity of the drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor and reports from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
About 87 percent of the state was still categorized as being abnormally dry to under exceptional drought on Oct. 22, according to the monitor. However, less than 1 percent was under exceptional drought conditions compared to more than 6 percent three months ago.
During the same time, extreme drought dropped from nearly 22 percent to about 4 percent, and severe drought from 39 percent to about 19 percent.
Though many areas are still suffering, the drought distinctions are important, according to AgriLife Extension agent reports. The recent rains have raised soil-moisture levels, making feasible the dryland planting of wheat and small grains for grazing. The added moisture also improved the prospects for the 2014 crop year.
The cotton harvest continued in the South Plains and in the Panhandle.
J.D. Ragland, AgriLife Extension agent in Randall County, south of Amarillo, reported irrigated cotton yields there were averaging two to three bales per acre. Dryland yields weren’t shabby either, hovering around one to 1.5 bales per acre.
The Rolling Plains cotton harvest was slow to start, with it just beginning on irrigated acres. Dryland cotton there was looking very bad, as reported by Langdon Reagan, AgriLife Extension agent in Wilbarger County, near Wichita Falls.
A common observation was that rains also replenished low pond and stock-water tank levels. Only last month, low stock water was a common concern in many areas. There were still reports from Central Texas and Coastal Bend areas of low water levels.
Another promising development was that though cooler temperatures slowed warm-season forage growth, many producers were able to take another hay cutting. In the South region, the rains improved pastures and rangeland to the point that producers were able to suspend supplemental feeding of livestock.
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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