Although the rains helped, more will be needed to catch the state up to something resembling normal conditions said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension agronomist and Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences associate department head.
“We’re still in widespread drought,” Miller said. “The rains we got mid-July were fairly extensive, and yes, they’ll make a difference. We’re seeing some grass and hay made on it. It will certainly improve the cotton crop and the sorghum crop in the Plains. In South Central Texas, the grain crops are already made. They’re harvesting corn right now, but we’ll make some cotton off the rain.”
The rains were unseasonable for late July as the period is usually one of the driest times of the year, he said.
He also said it’s important to remember that drought is a measure of how much below average moisture an area has received over a longer time than just a few weeks — usually three to six months. And much of the state has had from only 25-75 percent of normal precipitation over the last six months.
Still, the rains certainly helped many crops, particularly cotton in the High Plains and South Central Texas, though the crop remains late, he said.
“We got a very late start (with cotton),” Miller said. “As you remember, we had an unusually cool and very dry spring. A lot of cotton was planted late, right at the crop insurance cut-off date. Then the Plains had high winds and hail that damaged seedling cotton in some locations.”
He also noted a significant increase in sorghum acres this year, not only because of the re-plantings to lost cotton acres, but because of favorable prices.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
The harvesting of corn resumed after last week’s rains. Earlier-planted cotton benefited from the recent rains. Cotton was filling bolls.
The rain also helped pastures, and some were nearly ready for a second cutting of hay. Rice was heading, with some producers already harvesting.
Water quality for livestock was an issue in some areas because of low ponds. Some cases of prussic acid toxicity in cattle on Johnson grass were reported.
The northern part of the region received more rain, from scattered showers to three inches and more in some areas. Ranchers in those areas reported an increase in stock-tank water levels, as well as improved rangeland and pastures.
The eastern part of the region did not receive much rain, except for Jim Wells County, which got 3.5 inches. The remainder of the region was rainless but with high humidity, and windy with 90-100 degrees and above temperatures.
Rangeland and pastures were reported to be in fair to good condition in most of the northern region, fair in the eastern and western parts of the region, and mostly poor in the southern parts of the region. Supplemental feeding increased, and cattle body condition scores remained fair.
In Atascosa County, peanuts were in good condition, corn was silked, doughed and dented, with 90 percent of the crop mature. Sorghum and cotton crops in that county were in fair condition.
In Frio County, the corn harvest slowed, and sorghum was beginning to mature. In Jim Wells County, the few row crops that remained were sesame, sunflowers and guar. Production estimates were difficult to accurately predict, but producers expected moderate yields.
In Maverick County, seedless watermelons and onions were good.
In Zavala County, corn was drying down and in good condition as a result of extremely hot temperatures, and pecans were progressing well with little insect pressure. Also in that county, early planted corn was being harvested, but the harvest of the rest of the crop was a week to 10 days away.
Cotton in Cameron and Hidalgo counties was being defoliated, with picking expected to begin soon. In Starr County, hay and sorghum harvesting wound down.