COLLEGE STATION – Many areas received rain last week, further improving pastures and rangeland, filling farm ponds and stock tanks, and vastly improving the chances of successful spring planting, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service reports.
But many areas still needed more rain to make a good start on the cropping season, particularly the state’s larger cotton-growing areas, such as the South Plains and parts of the Rolling Plains, according to the reports.
In parts of the Texas High Plains, the problem of moisture-deficit was compounded by high winds. In the Panhandle, feedlots and dairies were battling wind and blowing dust that caused respiratory problems for cattle, according to reports from AgriLife Extension county agents.
“Producers have been busy fertilizing fields and trying to stop fields from blowing at the same time,” reported Rick Auckerman, AgriLife Extension agent for Deaf Smith County, west of Amarillo. “Mother Nature has continued to grace us with nonstop winds and temperatures fluctuating as much as 40 degrees in one 24-hour period.”
But other than holding topsoil in place, the large concern is whether weather patterns will break soon enough to encourage cotton planting in the South Plains, said Mark Kelley, AgriLife Extension cotton specialist, Lubbock.
“We’re still needing a lot more moisture,” Kelley said. “Seems like not long after we do get a fairly decent rain or snow event, we the 40 or 50 mph winds blowing nonstop, and that just sucks the moisture right out.”
There’s been quite a bit of field work done, fields have been tilled and bedded, as producers work hard with what moisture they have, he said.
“We’re still hopeful, and the way they talk, maybe the La Niña pattern will break by late spring and early summer,” Kelley said. “That’s what we need, for it too break, and give us some more moisture.”
But if the weather pattern doesn’t change, it will be a game changer, he said.
“Once we get around mid-April, we should know a little more about what’s going to take place,” Kelley said. “We generally start our planting around the first of May. Once we get to that mid-April point and the weather pattern continues to favor drought, then things could start looking pretty bleak.”
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/ .