Recent Rains Help Texas Planting Conditions, but Drought Persists in Some Areas

Recent rainfall has set up much of the state for spring crop planting, but other areas continue to experience drought, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

Cotton planting in irrigated fields began more than a week ago in the Rio Grande Valley, said Dr. Gaylon Morgan, AgriLife Extension cotton specialist, College Station, but has been slow due to intermittent cool temperatures this year. Dryland fields will need rain before growers commit to planting their cotton crop.

“Planting in 2018 seems later, but that’s just because growers started planting earlier than usual last year due to the warm temperatures,” he said. “Some cotton is up already, but growers without irrigation are waiting for rain.”

Drought conditions continue for other areas of the state, especially West Texas and the upper High Plains and Panhandle, Morgan said.

“Most of the West Texas region didn’t receive any substantial rain and continues to endure extreme drought conditions according to the U.S. drought monitor,” he said. “Luckily, we have until June for rain in those areas to accumulate precipitation, but the lack of moisture is worrying many growers.”

Morgan said rainfall and some snow fell in a majority of the Southern and Central Rolling Plains and these rainfall events provided some reprieve from a very dry fall and winter for the Blacklands of Texas. Unfortunately, much of the Northern Rolling Plains missed this rainfall.

The moisture should help planting conditions as producers statewide prepare to plant more cotton acres than the previous year, he said. Cotton acres were expected to increase almost 4 percent statewide to 7.15 million acres in 2018, according to a National Cotton Council survey.

Some areas are expected to see big jumps in cotton acres, including the Northern Blacklands where a 40 percent increase from 93,000 acres to over 140,000 acres was expected. Other regions will increase acres 8-15 percent, including the Southern Blacklands, Coastal regions, and the Rio Grande Valley, according to survey data.

“Increased interest in cotton among producers reflects the market prices of both cotton and grain prices that are not so good,” he said. “When producers are choosing between making money and losing the least amount possible, they’re going with the best option with current market prices.”

AgriLife Extension district summaries can be found here.

Source: Texas AgriLife Extension

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