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Texas Crop And Weather Report

Though corn in some areas showed considerable damage from late frosts and freezes in April and early May, most is back on track, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist.

“Cooler weather has delayed planting a little bit in the Panhandle, but now that we’ve warmed up, everything has taken off,” said Dr. Ronnie Schnell, AgriLife Extension agronomist specializing in corn and grain sorghum cropping systems, College Station.

Though most corn wasn’t planted or emerged yet in the High Plains, the frost damage to corn during early May in Central Texas and the Brazos Valley looked pretty dramatic, Schnell said. Leaves were yellowed and wilted in many low-lying areas, but even then the corn was at a growth stage where it recovered.

“The five-leaf stage is what we consider to be critical,” he said. “Before then, the growing point will be below the soil surface. After the five-leaf stage, it’s much more susceptible to damage. Everything was young enough that the growing points were protected. There was some leaf burn, foliage damage, but if it happens early, it generally does not have an effect on yield.”

The May 28 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Texas Crop Progress Report, which is compiled from AgriLife Extension county agent reports, showed 95 percent of corn planted, with 44 percent rated as in good condition, 38 percent fair, 8 percent excellent and the remainder in poor to very poor condition.

On an average year, Texas farmers produce more than 200 million bushels of corn on 2 million acres, according to a Texas A&M University department of soil and crop sciences summary.

Approximately 50 percent of Texas corn is grown in the Panhandle under irrigation, Schnell said.

Central: The region received from 1 inch to 4 inches of rain, but stock-water tanks remained extremely low in some areas. Coastal Bermuda grass was making slow progress. Corn began tasseling, and sorghum looked good. The wheat and oat harvest was stopped by the rains, but farmers expected to resume work soon. Wheat and oat yields were fair. There were numerous reports of grubs in rangeland and pastures in some areas. Many farmers reported grasshopper issues. Pecan producers planned to start spraying for pecan-nut casebearer soon.

Coastal Bend: Isolated areas received heavy rain, but low soil-moisture levels challenged future production as temperatures rose and winds increased going into summer. Corn was tasseling, and sorghum heading. Much planted cotton had not yet emerged due to the dry conditions. A lot of failed cotton acreage was being replanted to sesame or grain sorghum. Pasture-grass growth slowed down. Ponds remained low in most areas due to lack of run-off. Livestock producers continued to cut herds.

East: Rain amounts varied across the region, with the most reported to be 2.8 inches. Some counties also reported strong winds and small hail. The rains raised pond levels and improved pasture grass growth. Many producers had applied fertilizers in anticipation of the forecasted rain. Hay was cut and baled across the region. Many producers were cutting for the first time this season, which was several weeks later than usual. Livestock were in good condition. Livestock producers continued working later-born spring calves. Horn fly activity increased. Feral hogs were active. Vegetable production improved. Tomato producers reported disease and insect issues.

Far West: The region received from a trace to 3.6 inches of rain. Generally, conditions remained hot, dry and windy. Cotton producers continued planting in some areas. In others, early planted cotton began to emerge. Due to lack of moisture, ranchers continued to provide supplemental feed to cattle or were further thinning herds. Pecan growers were irrigating and fertilizing orchards.

North: Soil-moisture levels were good across the region after 0.75 inch to 2 inches of rain. The rains were certainly beneficial for pastures but put hay harvesting on hold. Winter wheat was in very good condition, with 75 percent of the crop having turned color. Sunflowers were in great condition and growing fast. Corn looked good, and soybeans were emerging. Summer grasses were greening up, and producers were harvesting ryegrass hay. Cattle were in good condition. Grasshoppers were in the second to third instar stage, and were numerous in most areas. Stock ponds were replenished by rain runoff during the last two weeks. Storms caused some tree and fence damage in some areas.

Panhandle: The region was hot and windy, with some areas reporting from a trace to 0.75 inch of rain. Soil-moisture levels continued to be mostly short to very short. Wheat was in very poor to poor condition. Corn had emerged and irrigation was active. Most of the crop was in good condition. Cotton and sorghum planting was ongoing. Rangeland and pasture were mostly in very poor to poor condition.

Rolling Plains: Parts of the region received from 0.3 inch to 5 inches of rain. Some of the storms delivered a fair amount of hail with the rain, along with high winds. Some crop damage was reported. Hail ranged from pea- to golf-ball size. What little cotton already planted had not emerged prior to the storms. Some cotton producers hoped the rains will raise soil-moisture levels enough to begin planting. Many areas will still need a substantial rain before producers can safely plant, but some may take a gamble, dry plant and hope for the best. Cotton planting on irrigated acres continued, and producers were already pumping water to get the crop up and going. For those who have not already baled their wheat for hay expected to begin harvesting the crop for grains, though yields were expected to be below average. Some producers are harvesting a few fields in hopes of gathering enough seed for next season. Pastures were in fair condition, and should get a growth boost where there was rain. Livestock producers continued to provide supplemental feed or turn out what cattle they had left to graze winter wheat.

South: Scattered rain fell throughout the region, with some areas receiving only light showers while others got substantial amounts. As a result, nearly all counties reported adequate to short soil-moisture levels. The exceptions were Starr and Hidalgo counties, where soil-moisture levels remained at 100 percent very short. La Salle County received 1 inch to 2 inches; McMullen County, 0.5 inch to 3.5 inches; Brooks County, 4 to 6 inches; Maverick County, 3.5 inches; Webb County, more than 6 inches; and Willacy County, 0.2 inch to 1.5 inches. The rains improved rangeland and pastures, from a little to a lot, depending upon how much was received. In Frio County, the wheat and potato harvests were ongoing, the oat harvest was finished, peanut planting began, and cotton was in good condition. In Maverick County, coastal Bermuda grass and oats were being harvested. In Zavala County, the rain allowed irrigators to turn off pumps but put the onion harvest on hold. Corn, cabbage and sorghum were all progressing well in that area, with no insect pressure reported. In Hidalgo County, the spring onion harvest wound down. In Starr County, the onion and honeydew melon harvests continued. In Willacy County, sorghum was in a variety of growth stages. Livestock body condition was reported as fair in most counties as a result of continual supplemental feeding.

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