Texas Field Reports: No ‘Rain, Rain, Go Away’ from Growers Yet

    Farmers aren’t too far removed from 2011 to say “rain, rain, go away,” but they also know too much of a good thing can be detrimental to crops, said Dusty Tittle, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Brazos County.

    Tittle said farmers won’t speak negatively about spring rains because of drought conditions that gripped the state five years ago, but they are aware of the problems associated with standing water, flooding and overall gloomy weather.

    “They remember the drought, but they also know too much water can be just as destructive,” he said. “Farmers don’t like extremes. They like middle of the road, but the pendulum is swinging from one side to the other.”

    Producers in Brazos County and surrounding areas have experienced damages including lost or stunted crops and washed away fences, Tittle said. However, he said, many crops in areas that drain are doing well with the moisture.


    Producers are experiencing similar spring conditions in croplands as last year, when persistent rains flooded fields, left standing water and oversaturated soil to the point of damaging crops or preventing field work. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photograph by Kay Ledbetter)

    There were AgriLife Extension reports of submerged corn cobs and limited access to fields.

    The weather continues to put a damper on producers’ access to fields to apply fertilizer and herbicides or even load cattle. Cattle sale volumes at the Navasota Livestock Auction Co. were well below average due to more than 15 inches of rain and severe weather, including an F-2 tornado, according to AgriLife Extension reports.

    The auction house had 298 head come to market when a typical weekend sale draws between 800-1,200 head, according to auction company staff.

    If producers choose to apply herbicides, pesticides and plant growth regulators to crops, Tittle said it would have to be by airplane for a while.

    Tittle said bottomland is so saturated that additional rains would likely leave more standing water. Signs of stress on corn due to too much water hasn’t been seen yet but there is concern rains may affect plant pollination.

    Fledgling cotton crops have suffered from too much water and too little sunshine as well, he said.

    “We really need sunshine and wind for an extended time,” he said.

    AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

    CENTRAL: Heavy rainfall resulted in flooding, which washed out county and ranch roads. Damage to crops had not been determined, but losses were expected in newly planted cotton fields. Vegetable producers also faced issues. Bermuda grass needed to be harvested, but it may be some time before cutting can begin amid current conditions and more rain in the forecast.

    Stocker operators have moved nearly all their cattle off winter pasture to feedlots. Livestock were in good condition. Corn and grain sorghum remained good. Tanks, creeks and rivers were overflowing.

    Counties reported 100 percent good soil moisture. Overall range and pasture conditions were 100 percent good, and 80 percent of crops were in fair condition overall.

    ROLLING PLAINS: The district received plenty of moisture for farmers to begin planting and pastures looked lush and green. Some areas received severe weather, but no damages were reported. Total rainfall amounts were between 2-4 inches. Soil was saturated and should hold good moisture for several weeks.

    Cotton farmers were eager to begin planting as temperatures reached the mid-90s but only a small number of acres were planted. Planters should be in full force in cotton fields around the district soon. Wheat harvest was delayed in areas due to wet conditions. Sorghum planting was almost complete with good emergence.

    Livestock were in good condition with plenty of grazing. Stocker cattle have almost entirely been moved off wheat fields. Tanks were full and rivers were flowing.

    COASTAL BEND: Heavy rains were reported in many areas with additional rains in the forecast. Another round of major flooding occurred on the Colorado River with higher levels than reported a month ago, and many fields were at saturation point due to increased rainfall. Some cotton started to yellow and crop damage on some corn acreage was reported.

    Row and field crops continued to progress, though some wheat crops were expected to be a lost in the field. Herbicide applications on pastures were made in areas dry enough to access. Growth regulators need to be applied, but can only be done by air in some areas.

    Mosquitoes were flourishing. Hay harvests continued as weather permitted. Pasture conditions were wet but green and growing. Most livestock were in great condition, and calves were growing and gaining weight with access to ample grass.

    EAST: Flooding rains and high winds were reported in several counties across the region. Subsoil and topsoil conditions continued to be mostly adequate with only two counties reporting surplus.

    Trinity County reported up to 12 inches in several hours, which caused major flooding. Areas along the Trinity River were standing in water. Some culverts were washed out and bridges were damaged by log and other debris during flooding. Some residents could not reach their homes.

    Polk County reported damage to fences along creeks and rivers.

    San Augustine County had heavy rain, hail and high winds. Ponds were full. Pasture and range conditions continued to be mostly good. Fertilizer trucks were running hard before the rain. Pasture grass was making good growth with the warmer night temperatures and plentiful moisture. But weeds were plentiful for the same reasons.

    Conditions were too wet and windy to spray herbicides for weed control in Wood County. Producers started cutting hay where conditions allowed. Gardens were producing vegetables. Fruit trees were also producing. Livestock were doing fair to good. Producers continued to market cull cows and market-ready calves.

    The cattle market was down in Shelby County.

    Upshur County also reported beaver and gopher control taking place. Buffalo gnats were being pests with warmer temperatures and plenty of water for breeding. Feral hog activity was reported around the region.

    SOUTH PLAINS: Bailey County producers received scattered rainfall across the county. Cotton planting was winding down there with plants exhibiting good emergence. Corn progressed well.

    Borden County received 2.5 inches of rainfall.

    In Cochran County, sub and topsoil moisture levels were depleted with high winds and warm temperatures. Producers continued to plant. Pasture, rangeland and winter wheat were in need of additional moisture. Cattle were in good condition.

    Rainfall, ranging from 2-4 inches was reported across Garza County along with some hail that damaged roofs, vehicles and trees. Cotton planting was 30-40 percent complete.

    Hockley County had isolated thunderstorms.

    Field activities in Lubbock County included emergency tillage, planting and at-plant herbicide applications. As fields dried, farmers worked into the night and made excellent progress on planting crops. Planting conditions were mostly favorable. A cool front included 58 mile-per-hour wind gusts and rainfall amounts ranging from 0.14-0.53 of an inch with more rainfall in the forecast.

    Rainfall ranging from 0.5-1 inch was received in Mitchell County. Cotton producers worked hard in fields trying to plant before it rained.

    Scurry County reported 2-4 inches of rain with some hail.

    In Swisher County, hot dry days allowed farmers to plant cotton or replant cotton damaged by cool temperatures in mid-May. The county received 2 inches of rain.

    PANHANDLE: Temperatures were near normal. Some moisture was received. Amounts ranged from a trace amount up to 10 inches in some isolated areas.

    Hall County rains helped pastures but 4-10 inches in one night caused flooding and set crops back several weeks. Soil moisture continued to be rated mostly short to adequate.

    Rain in Collingsworth County added much needed soil moisture for planting. Hot, dry days aided the development of seeds in the ground. Some wheat fields received hail damage and were expected to be made into hay.

    Dallam and Hartley counties were warm and dry with no rainfall. Corn and cotton planting neared completion. Potatoes were all planted. The first alfalfa cutting was complete. Corn planting was wrapping up with the exception of late planted silage.

    Early plantings of corn were up to three or four leaf stage, and producers applied herbicides and fertilizers. They also began running pivots. Wheat crops were drying down and producers expected an early harvest. Wheat and triticale silage harvests were wrapping up with above average-yields being reported.

    Cotton planting was wrapping up with many dryland acres being “dusted” in. Planting considerations will have to be made in order to maximize cotton yield and potential. Most early planted cotton was up to a stand. Grain sorghum acres were going in but total acres were down this year due to the sugarcane aphid concerns. Cattle and range conditions improved.

    Wheeler County cotton producers neared completion of planting, but 1-3 inches of rain likely will mean some fields will have to be replanted. Some corn will also be replanted.

    NORTH: Topsoil moisture was adequate to surplus throughout the counties. Severe thunderstorms, high winds and rain totaling 1-2 inches were reported, and more rain was forecast. May has been wet with 7-11 inches for the month. Producers were able to get most of their hay rolled up, with some good quality and some not so good depending on how many times it got wet.

    Wheat and oat fields were wet with some lodging occurring in places. Producers hoped to see a break in the rain to allow harvest. Corn and milo continued to look pretty good despite the rain and standing water. Farmers scouted for aphids and worms. Cattle looked good on available forage. Producers continued to pull stockers off winter forage.

    Frequent rains raised humidity levels, which promoted fungus. Cooler temperatures helped reduced livestock stress but also increased problematic fly production. Wild hogs continued to cause costly damage.

    FAR WEST: Culberson County had high winds and hot temperatures with a little rain.

    Glasscock County was hit hard with several storms, one spawned a tornado that destroyed a home and hail that destroyed several hundred acres of cotton, corn, wheat and sorghum. The moisture received was good and cotton planting picked up significantly as fields dried.

    Howard County received severe storms that produced hail and rain.

    Pastures in Hudspeth County were starting to dry out and irrigation water was limited. Several storms passed through the county and produced high winds.

    Reagan County received rain, heavy storms, including hail, in the northern part of the county, however most cotton was not affected.

    Temperatures in Terrell County reached the upper 90s with high humidity and some precipitation.

    In Upton County, producers continued to harvest winter wheat, but some fields died due to heavy rains from two weeks ago. Replanting has begun. Damaged wheat will be put up in round bales.

    Parts of central and southern Ward County received scattered rainfall. Temperatures reached beyond 100 degrees with constant high winds, which dried out range conditions.

    Andrews County received heavy rains and greatly improved range and croplands.

    Winkler and Loving counties received no rain and were drying out quickly.

    Pastures in Crockett County were in great shape. Pasture and range conditions across the district were good.

    WEST CENTRAL: Days were warmer with mild nights. Heavy rainfall was reported in some areas and more was expected. Storms brought concentrated amounts of wind, rain, hail and lightning. Minimal hail damage was reported. Field activities were halted. Saturated fields and pastures were inaccessible to plant or harvest, and losses were expected.

    Cotton planting will be underway as conditions allow. Most wheat and oats were grazed out or baled. Remaining wheat and oats look very good, with good yields expected. Sorghum and corn crops were in excellent condition.

    First hay-cutting in Bermuda grass pastures was near. Range and pasture conditions continued to improve. Grasses were growing, and forage loads were high in most places. Most pastures were green and lush with excellent growth. Some pastures will take years to recover from overgrazing. Weeds were abundant where they were not managed. Flies were an issue as well.

    Stock tanks were full with many running over. Small creeks and rivers were on the rise with some flooding outside their banks. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Cattle prices were steady. Cattle looked good, and most had calved or were ready.

    SOUTHEAST: Chambers County received rain, which delayed rice planting. There were still many acres of rice to be planted but very little time left to plant.

    In Fort Bend County, additional rains continued to saturate the area. Cattle producers with low-lying areas moved animals to higher ground because of expected flooding. Pastures were in fair to good condition.

    In Waller County, heavy rains flooded many fields and crops. The Brazos River was out of its banks and flooded nearby fields.

    In Brazos County, excessive rainfall caused flooding in low lying areas and some fields were standing in water. Crop losses were expected as a result.

    Heavy rains in Harris County kept pastures in overall poor condition. Soil moisture levels throughout the region varied widely, mostly in the adequate to surplus range with surplus being the most common.

    Waller, Fort Bend, Galveston, Brazos and San Jacinto counties reported 100 percent surplus. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely too, mostly from excellent to good, with fair ratings being the most common.

    SOUTHWEST: Field conditions were extremely wet following 1-8 inches of rain. Moisture and humidity slowed small grain harvest and could lead to increased fungal diseases and pests. Some crops were damaged by high winds and hail.

    Livestock producers like the grass growth. Livestock were in good condition, and late lambing and kidding continues. Stomach worms in sheep and goats were beginning to appear.

    SOUTH: Weather conditions throughout the district were hot, humid and cloudy with some rainfall occurring in areas.

    Conditions were good for crops in the Atascosa County area. Rain fell across the county, which delayed the remaining wheat harvest but was beneficial for pastures and planted crops. Irrigation pivots were relatively idol. Corn was in good condition with 100 percent of the crop planted, emerged and silking.

    Sixty percent of oat crops have been harvested throughout Frio County. Sorghum and winter wheat crops were doing well.

    Rainfall across Live Oak and McMullen counties varied from 1-5 inches and improved soil moisture levels. Range and pasture conditions improved as well. Pasture conditions still lagged in some areas with no rain. Cattle body condition scores were good. Supplemental feeding declined.

    Soil moisture conditions were mostly adequate with Atascosa County reporting 70-90 percent adequate, Frio County reporting 100 percent adequate subsoil and 75 percent surplus topsoil moistures. Soil moisture conditions were 90 percent adequate in McMullen County and 70 percent short in Live Oak County.

    Pastures in Brooks County remained at a decent stage but could use more rain. The number of cattle at the sale barn was high considering a downward trend over recent weeks.

    Corn crops and range and pastures were in good condition in Jim Wells County.

    No significant rain fell in Kleberg and Kenedy counties but rain was forecast.

    Soil moisture conditions were 100 percent adequate throughout Brooks, Jim Wells, Kleberg and Kenedy counties. Conditions remained favorable for forage production in western portions of the district, with timely rains but more was needed as summer looms.

    In Maverick County, conditions were mostly cloudy and humid with some light rainfall. Rangeland remained green with all the past rain. Coastal bales of Bermuda grass, round or square, were already available for market. The second cut of the year should occur in June. Weather conditions were cool and range and pasture conditions were recovering as a result of a few inches of rain in recent weeks.

    In Zapata County, conditions were hot, humid and cloudy with light drizzle. Pastures still looked good and healthy in some areas of the county and stable in others. Rainfall had been inconsistent though. Some areas received rain and others received nothing.

    In Zavala County, conditions were finally good enough for cucumber harvest and cultivation activities of some crops. Corn made good progress. Cotton also developed well. Oat and wheat harvest was expected to be completed soon. Range and pastures continued to provide good, quality forage for livestock. These conditions were expected to continue for a while due to abundant soil moisture.

    Also in Zavala County, pecans did well without added irrigation water. Crop irrigation in the southern part of the district was very active. Crop conditions were good. The corn crop was 100 percent planted, emerged and silking. Cotton crops were also 100 percent planted and squaring. Sorghum crops remained in good condition. Range and pastures remained in good condition. Soil moisture conditions remained 90-100 percent adequate.

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