Texas Corn and Sorghum Appear on Track

Corn and sorghum crops appear to be on time and on track to produce average yields for producers around the state, said Ronnie Schnell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service state cropping systems specialist, College Station.

Corn acreage is a little behind the five-year average, Schnell said, but farmers and fields are in better shape than last year.

He said weather, especially wet weather, did not cause delays as it did in 2015.

“There was a lot of late planting last year due to rain,” he said. “It looks like the weather is cooperating for the most part across the state (this year).”

Corn and sorghum in East Texas, the Brazos Valley and southern Texas had all been planted with most, if not all, emerged and some were waist high or in the six-leaf stage, he said. Other producers continued to prepare fields on schedule.

Schnell said it remains to be seen how flooding over the weekend might have affected individual crops in those areas. Some prior flooding in the Brazos Valley area required farmers to replant crops.

“We could see problems in areas that received heavier rains, the 12-plus inch rainfalls, but a lot of croplands in other parts of the state, like the Panhandle, needed the precipitation as they prepare for planting,” he said.

Schnell said expectations could shift with the weather, especially if prolonged drought in dry areas or rains in wet areas occurred.

“It’s always about the timing,” he said. “But it looks like we’re off to a good start.”

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

CENTRAL: The region received 3-8 inches of rain with more rain in the forecast. Weekend storms produced excessive rainfall amounts and flooding, with county roads being closed due to overflowing creeks. Small grains have been cut for silage, but many acres were still left to cut. Pastures were in good condition, and producers fertilized heavily before the rains.

Landowners would likely stay out of fields for several days to allow them to dry. Wheat and oats were laid down on the ground. Wheat crops looked good with a few instances of rust. Corn and sorghum also looked good. Tanks and all water sources were full and running over. Cattle and livestock were doing well. Temperatures were normal.

All counties reported good soil moisture. Overall crop and livestock conditions were good in all counties that reported.

ROLLING PLAINS: Weather ranged from very warm and dry to cooler and wet. Parts of the region reported as much as 4.5 inches of rain and hail. There were no reports of significant damage from the hail. The moisture helped farmers who found plenty of subsoil moisture but were lacking moisture in topsoil as they prepared fields for crops.

Rainfall also helped pastures and rangeland as grasses began to emerge, plus helped suppress any wildfire threat. Livestock were in good to excellent condition with plenty of grazing in pastures and winter wheat.

Producers said they likely could make a wheat crop if stripe rust doesn’t become a problem. Certain wheat varieties looked really good while other varieties suffered. Some producers have been chopping green silage.

COASTAL BEND: Some areas received significant rainfall, and heavy rains were forecast. Crops began to shoot up due to the moisture received, and growing conditions were becoming more favorable in some areas. Fertilizer was applied to pasture and hay fields, and herbicide were applied to some fields. Livestock prices fell compared to earlier this year.

EAST: Conditions across the area have been windy with lower temperatures. Forages continued to transition from cool to warm season. Cool temperatures at night allowed cool-season forages to hang around and continue to make good growth. Warm-season grasses and weeds began emerging. Some producers prepared for the first hay cutting. Applications of herbicides and fertilizers continued in pastures and hay fields.

Recent rainfalls improved soil moisture conditions. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were mostly adequate with only Henderson and Smith counties reporting a surplus. Pasture and range conditions were mostly good with a few counties reporting fair conditions. Smith County reported heavy rain in some areas. Peach growers were seeing problems primarily due to low chill hours on some varieties of peaches. Vegetables were making good progress in Henderson County. Growers were planting gardens.

Spring cattle work was underway. Livestock were in good condition with hay and supplemental feeding decreased. Feral hog damage increased.

SOUTH PLAINS: Cochran County subsoil and topsoil conditions improved with recent rains, which was expected to improve pasture, range and winter wheat conditions as well. Producers continued to prepare for spring planting. Very small amounts of rain fell across Crosby County. Parts of Floyd County received between 0.5-2 inches of rain while southern portions of the county received no measurable precipitation.

Light rain fell across Garza County with amounts ranging from 0.2-0.5 inches. Weather was mostly mild with temperatures in the 70s. More rainfall was expected in the region. Cotton fields were being prepared for May planting. Rainfall was needed to fill the soil profile enough for cotton crops to get off to a good start. Range and pastures were in fair to good condition with rainfall needed for warm season forage growth. Cattle were in mostly good condition.

A few scattered showers were seen in Hale County, but no significant accumulation occurred. Measurable rain was received in Hockley County and more was expected. Field work stopped there for a few days because of rains. A severe weather event missed Lubbock County, but fields there also missed out on expected moisture.

Lubbock County did receive some scattered rainfall and pea- to marble-sized hail. The majority of heavy rains and severe weather was in counties to the east. There was concern over wheat leaf and stripe rust with the recent conditions. Widespread moisture was needed prior to spring planting. Scurry County received from 2-5 inches of rain. Snyder fields were expected to be planted when it dried up enough for field work.

PANHANDLE: The region experienced near-average temperatures and some moisture in most areas. Rainfall ranged from trace amounts to 1.5 inches, but more rain was needed as soil moisture levels were mostly short. Carson County received spotty showers to heavy rains and some small hail. Collingsworth County received rain and cooler, cloudy conditions which replenished moisture levels. Areas of the county received upwards of 2 inches. Wheat and pastures looked replenished and lush thanks to the moisture.

Deaf Smith County producers were hoping for a major rain event but only received rainfall amounts of less than 0.2 inches. Corn planting will probably begin soon, and irrigation pivots will run right behind the planters. The winter wheat crop was still hanging on, with the irrigated crop being watered in anticipation of shifting to the corn. Grain sorghum and cotton plantings were still in limbo.

Weekend rains in Hutchinson County were beneficial for producers preparing for the upcoming crop season. Wet weather is forecast, and planting should begin soon. Randall County weather conditions remained extremely dry. Producers planted some corn and were ready to begin in other corn fields, as well as cotton and sorghum fields. Range and pasture conditions continued to be mostly fair. Cattle on range were still being supplemented and were in fair condition.

NORTH: Topsoil moisture varied from adequate to surplus. This week brought some rain to the area. Winter wheat was doing well across the counties. Some areas in some wheat fields were pretty thin. Some wheat began to head out. Corn was being planted across the counties. Bottoms remained flooded and pastures improved as temperatures increased.

Livestock were doing well. Spring-born calves were growing well across the counties with the amount of winter pasture available. Horn flies started to show up in cow herds. Some grasshopper activity was reported and wild pigs were active.

FAR WEST: Parts of Glasscock County received between 0.3-1.3 inches. High winds associated with the storms toppled several telephone poles in the western part of the county while the southern part received small hail. Wheat looked good, and one last fungicide treatment may be needed on rust-susceptible varieties. Corn and sorghum was coming up, and soil moisture for the upcoming cotton crop was excellent.

Howard County also received a surplus of rain and reported high winds that damaged crops, houses and barns. Preparation of cotton fields in Pecos County continued. Presidio County had cooler temperatures with freezing temperatures recorded in the northern part of the county. Most cattle were still on supplemental feeding due to very dry conditions. Reagan County received a good amount of rainfall which should improve pasture and range conditions.

Ward County stayed warm and dry as spring livestock branding continued. Andrews County received light rains which benefited range and pasture conditions. Winkler and Loving counties received 0.5 inches of rain which resulted in the emergence of weeds, but range and pasture conditions looked good. Range and pasture conditions across the district were fair to good. Topsoil and subsoil moisture was surplus in the eastern part of the district and adequate in the western half of the district.

WEST CENTRAL: Most days were warm with cool nights. Rainfall was scattered to very heavy around the district. A few areas reported some hail. Producers were unable to go into the fields and evaluate crops due to wet conditions. Field conditions were expected to be unworkable for days. Tank and creeks were full from run-off. Weeds in pastures continue to be an issue. Many producers sprayed to control weeds as they prepared for warm-season grasses to emerge.

Crops and fields benefited from the rain, which will also provide a good seedbed for cotton planting next month. Some small grain fields were cut and baled. Spring seeded hay crops were planted before the rain, and more will be planted as fields dry out. Grain sorghum emerged well with recent moisture. Corn crops emerged and were in good condition. Wheat crops were in fair to good condition. Winter wheat perked up this week after the rainfall.

Range and pasture conditions continued to improve. Pastures were green, and wildflowers were in full bloom. Warm-season grasses started to break dormancy. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Yearling cattle on graze-out were getting heavy and were ready to go to market as prices held steady.

SOUTHEAST: Hay producers welcomed rains in Chambers County, but the same rains will slow rice plantings down. In Walker County, the rain helped forage grasses and gardens. In Hardin County, the weather was good which allowed workable conditions in the pastures and fields. Soil-moisture levels throughout the region varied widely, mostly in the adequate to surplus range with adequate being the most common. Walker County reported 100 percent adequate.

Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely too, mostly from excellent to good, with good ratings being the most common. San Jacinto County reported 100 percent good soil moisture.

SOUTHWEST: Some areas received significant rainfall which may affect crops. Pastures looked good. However, some areas received just enough rain to enhance spring green-up. Livestock was in fair condition, and spring shearing continued.

SOUTH: The eastern parts of Atascosa County received a good amount of rain – with more expected – and 100 percent of the planted corn crop has emerged. Oat crops were in good condition, and about 90 percent of sorghum crops were planted. Corn crops in Frio County progressed well. About 25 percent of the upland cotton crops were planted. All sorghum fields were planted, and oat crops were in good condition with 100 percent headed out.

Soil moisture conditions remained mostly at 100 percent for the past week, with McMullen County reporting the least adequate soil moisture at about 70 percent. In Jim Wells County, 100 percent of corn crops were emerged, 70 percent of cotton upland has been planted and 90 percent of the sorghum crop had been planted. Crops were also doing well in Kleberg and Kenedy counties, where 100 percent of the corn crops emerged, 90 percent of cotton upland was planted and 100 percent of sorghum crops were planted.

Soil moisture conditions were 75-100 percent adequate in the Jim Wells County area and 70-75 percent adequate in Kleberg and Kenedy counties. Range and pastures were in good condition. Days were suitable for good range and pasture conditions in the Dimmit County area.

In Zavala County, 100 percent of corn crops were emerged, 100 percent of cotton upland was planted, and oats were in good condition with 100 percent of the crop headed. All sorghum crops were planted and in good condition. Soil moisture conditions were reported at 80-85 percent adequate in Dimmit County, 50 percent adequate in Zapata County and 100 percent adequate in the Zavala County area.

Producers in Hidalgo County continued to harvest sugarcane, citrus and vegetables, and row crops needed rain. Irrigation of crops picked up throughout Hidalgo County, and 100 percent of corn had emerged while 100 percent of sorghum crops have been planted. In Starr County, 100 percent of all corn was planted and in good condition. Soil moisture conditions remained adequate, with Hidalgo County reporting 100 percent adequate subsoil moisture conditions and 90 percent short topsoil moisture conditions.

Starr County soil moisture conditions remained at 90 percent adequate.

Source: Adam Russell, Texas AgriLife

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