Texas Field Reports: Dry Weather Aids Harvest but Creates Concern

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    CENTRAL: Cotton harvests neared the end with some excellent yields. Producers reported more than 4.5 bales per acre on some irrigated fields. Most small-grain fields were excellent. Most producers were already allowing cattle/livestock to graze pastures. Pecan harvests were back in full swing after being shut down about 10 days due to rainfall. The pecan crop was good to very good on managed acres. Cattle market prices were steady or increased. Nearly all counties reported good soil moisture and good pasture and rangeland conditions. Most crops were in good condition overall. Livestock were in good condition in all counties.  

    ROLLING PLAINS: Conditions remained favorable for cotton farmers, with plenty of sunshine and warm weather for producers to continue harvests. The weather was unusually warm for this time of year and that allowed pastures and rangeland to continue producing plenty of grazing for cattle. One county reported hay was still being baled. Recent rainfall helped winter wheat, which looked promising. Forecasts called for freezing temperatures. The freeze should help with fly control issues. Livestock were in good condition. Residents were busy covering plants and faucets to prepare for the first freeze.

    COASTAL BEND: Conditions were mostly dry. Field work continued with some producers applying fertilizer. Some late hay cutting occurred. Planting of winter pastures continued with wheat, oats and ryegrass for grazing. Pasture conditions declined due to the dry climate and changing season. Cattle prices were lower on higher inventories. Livestock remained in good condition.

    EAST: Conditions continued to worsen. Both subsoil and topsoil moisture were short to very short. A cold front blew in but with little or no rain. All counties needed rain. More moisture was needed for winter pastures. Pasture and range conditions were fair to good. Grasses were starting to turn brown. Pond and creek levels continued to drop. Scattered showers fell on a few counties with reported amounts of less than half an inch. Shelby County had the first killing frost of the year. Producers in Marion and Trinity counties were still baling hay. Some producers in Trinity County were buying out-of-county hay. Many producers were supplemental feeding. Pastures were beginning to be grazed short. Livestock were in fair to good condition. The cattle market in Shelby County was low. The fall calf crop was growing well. Soil tests were underway in Upshur County for spring pastures. Gopher and mole control continued. Wild pigs were active.

    SOUTH PLAINS: Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels in Cochran County were still adequate due to recent moisture. Producers were just now returning to fields to resume harvests. Harvesting was very active. Pastures, rangeland and winter wheat continued to improve with recent rains. Cattle were in good condition. Estimates indicate the cotton harvest was about 60 percent complete. Cotton was stringing out to the ground due to the heavy rains in some fields, but others held up nicely and looked good. The first freeze was forecast and should help knock off some remaining cotton leaves. Other areas experienced a first freeze with temperatures dipping near 20 degrees. Wheat was growing well but some wheat fields showed evidence of rust. Dry conditions in Swisher County have stocker cattle producers worried due to wheat conditions.

    PANHANDLE: Unseasonably warm temperatures continued though cooler temperatures and windy conditions arrived. No moisture was received. Moisture was needed throughout the district as soil moisture was mostly short. Hall County wheat looked good after recent rains. Cotton harvests resumed with high yields and grades. Some fields yielded 3-5 bales per acre. Hansford County experienced a freeze that helped milo and cotton harvests. Cattle were moved to corn stalks or wheat pasture.

    Winter wheat conditions declined. Many dryland wheat fields experienced poor germination and fields that emerged were in poor health. Irrigated wheat producers applied more water than normal to produce adequate stands. Some wheat fields were not planted due to low prices and poor weather conditions. Cattle on range were given supplemental feeding. Stocker cattle gains were excellent due to mild dry weather. Pastures and rangeland were mostly good to poor. Cattle were in good condition.

    NORTH: Soil conditions remained very dry. Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels varied from adequate to short. The early part of the week was unseasonably warm with a record high, but a cold front hit and dropped temperatures. A trace of rain up to about one-quarter inch was received in advance of the front. Nighttime temperatures were close to freezing. Most small grains and winter pastures were planted but needed rain. Most all harvests were complete aside from a few cotton fields. The calf market was much better based on futures markets. A few cattle producers were starting to feed hay and supplements while waiting on winter pastures. Livestock began to have respiratory issues. Insect numbers reduced because of cooler temperatures and provided relief for livestock.

    FAR WEST: Temperature highs were in the 70s with lows in the 30s. Cotton harvests resumed. The crop fared well for the most part. Some varieties strung out more than others,  but all in all the crop looked fine. There were some late green fields that were being sprayed with boll opener. There were many bare spots in pastures, and grass and weeds were growing. There were increased threats of fire due to tall weeds. Producers continued to supplement feed for livestock and wildlife.

    WEST CENTRAL: Days were very warm and dry, and farmers were happy to be back in the fields. A cold front pushed through and brought temperatures to typical fall conditions. One morning had frost. There were some small-grain planting and last-minute hay baling. Winter wheat was in mostly good to excellent shape. Livestock remained in good condition, as did stock tank levels. There were a few calves turned out on the earlier-planted fields. Pecan harvests were in full swing. Yields were good but there were some reports of lower-grade pecans. Prices were excellent on lots with normal grades.

    SOUTHEAST: Conditions were still dry even in counties that received rain. Ryegrass was planted in several areas. Pastures remained in good condition as the temperatures began to cool off. Soil moisture levels throughout the region ranged widely from adequate to short with most ratings in the adequate range.

    SOUTHWEST: Recent rains increased soil moisture levels. Winter wheat planting was underway with winter grasses growing in pastures. Winter weeds were having a hard time. Decent rainfall and cooler temperatures arrived, and the first frost was expected to happen soon. Many producers planted the last bit of winter grains. Rangeland and pastures remained in good conditions, as did livestock.

    SOUTH: Good weather conditions continued throughout the district. Conditions remained mild, but lows dropped into the 40s as a result of a cold front. Daytime temperatures reached 90 degrees in some areas. Peanut harvests continued.  Wheat and oats continued to develop. Pastures and rangeland conditions continued to decline due to the lack of rainfall and shorter days. Some areas received a trace to half an inch of rain ahead of the cold front. Other areas received up to 2.5 inches of rain. Soil moisture levels improved and resulted in a slight greening of pastures. Forage quality was good, but production could be limited as the growing season for summer perennials neared the end. Cattle body condition scores remained good with little to no supplementation. The live cattle market remained good for Brooks County. The deer-hunting season was in full swing. In Zavala County, dry conditions allowed harvest activities in cabbage, fresh-market spinach and other spinach fields. Also in Zavala County, onions and carrots made good progress. No insect pressure was reported. Harvesting of sugarcane and citrus continued. Hay baling operations continued on improved pastures.

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