News

Texas Facing Long, Hot Summer


Dry conditions continue to persist in much of the state as this summer is shaping up to be one of the hottest on record, according to the Texas state climatologist.

Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, state climatologist, College Station, said parts of the state received rains that improved moisture levels while other areas continued to experience dry, hot weather.

Dry conditions are forcing cattle producers in some areas to provide supplemental feed earlier and more frequently than normal. Some areas of the state received significant rains, but most of the state lingers in drought are are nearing drought conditions rapidly. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Dr. Bill Pinchak)

Northern counties of the Panhandle and the southern parts of the state along the lower Rio Grande and Coastal Bend improved significantly after heavy rains, he said. Some areas in southern Texas experienced flooding.

But as those areas received rains, Nielsen-Gammon said large swaths of the state, including Northeast, Central and West Central Texas continued to dry out. Parts of Northeast Texas and along the Interstate 35 corridor have received less than 50 percent of their normal rainfall over the last two months.

In the short-term, Nielsen-Gammon said the southern half of the state could receive rain from tropical moisture later this week. But the following weeks look dry for most of the state.

July is typically the driest month for most of the state, he said.

“There may be a decent chance of rain for extreme North and West Texas in the coming weeks,” he said. “That could bring some relief from dry conditions, but as things look right now, much of the state will continue to be dry.”

Meanwhile, temperatures were 3-4 degrees warmer than average over the last month, Nielsen-Gammon said. Temperatures in parts of West Texas have averaged 6-8 degrees warmer than normal since the beginning of May.

“Every station in Texas reported above-normal temperatures, which would make it one of the 10 warmest Junes on record,” he said. “We’re not on pace to equal 2011, but it’s setting up to be a relatively hot summer.”

Nielsen-Gammon said 2011 continues to be the most extreme outlier when it comes to drought. That year, temperatures were more than 5 degrees above normal, or twice the previous record for above-average temperatures.

“If conditions continue as they have been, 2018 could be the second hottest summer on record,” he said. “We could pull that off.”

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Districts

CENTRAL: Very hot and dry winds continued. Temperatures were above 100 degrees. Pastures and crops were in poor condition. All crops and grass showed drought stress. Beef producers began feeding some hay and protein. One county reported increased fire activity. Most areas were 10-16 inches below the 10-year average rainfall. Most corn was being chopped for silage. Cotton was starting to stress and dropping blooms. Some nodes were falling. A majority of corn fields were burnt up.

ROLLING PLAINS: Hot, dry and windy conditions continued in the district. Area conditions for farmers and ranchers deteriorated over the past few reporting periods. Planted cotton fields dried out, and recently emerged cotton plants were stressed. Before dry conditions set in, farmers dealt with heavy rain and had a hard time getting acres planted due to wet conditions. Some fields were washed out and had to be replanted. Hay fields were relatively dormant and producing less than usual. Lack of moisture and lack of rain in the forecast has put a damper on the outlook for agriculture producers in the district. Pastures and rangelands were in fair to good condition. Producers continued to supplement with feed while trying to control grubs and flies.

COASTAL BEND: Crop conditions improved significantly due to rainfall. Grain harvest was back on track and in full swing. Bolls were opening on cotton, and producers were spraying fields. Potassium deficiencies were reported in some cotton crops. Corn harvest should start soon. Some second cuttings of hay were being harvested. Rangeland and pasture conditions greatly improved, but some pastures were still short. Livestock were doing well and finding plenty to eat. Mosquitoes continued to be a nuisance.

EAST: Dry conditions and high temperatures continued to slow growth of all crops in the district. Drought conditions were reported in Cherokee and Houston counties. Sabine County reported scattered thunderstorms in some parts of the county, but most of the county’s pastures and hay fields saw nothing but sunshine. Houston and Wood County producers were concerned about not getting a second cutting of hay. Hay continued to be cut in Anderson, Marion and Smith counties, but yields were short with moderate quality. Sabine County forage and hay production still appeared promising as several inches of rainfall during June produced heavy growth, and grass was still growing. Pasture and rangeland conditions were good in Rusk and Sabine counties, and fair in Shelby, Wood, Anderson, Jasper and San Augustine counties. Topsoil conditions were adequate in Sabine, Anderson, Jasper and San Augustine counties and short in all other counties. Subsoil conditions were adequate in Sabine, Anderson, Jasper and San Augustine counties, with all other counties reporting short conditions. Anderson County reported cotton seemed to be thriving. Peas were in good shape, and the peach crop was good as well. Jasper County reported soil temperatures were rising and causing crops to fade. Marion County gardens were doing well, but the lack of rain caused producers to water almost every day. Anderson County reported feral hog activity had slowed down in some areas, while hogs were still causing a lot of damage in Henderson County. Henderson County fly and mosquito numbers were still up. Cattle and livestock were holding good body conditions throughout the district but were receiving supplementation. Shelby County reported the calf market was solid.

SOUTH PLAINS: Some counties received more rain, but the showers did not result in enough moisture to maintain the crops. High winds and hot conditions resulted in quick drying of the moisture received. Subsoil and topsoil moisture levels continued to be very low. At least half of the dryland cotton acres did not come up, and replant decisions were being made regarding whether to plant cotton, fallow or sorghum. Irrigated cotton was squaring, and progress ranged from four true leaves to more than 15, with half-grown squares. Some sorghum was blooming, and there were no signs of sugarcane aphids. Corn was silking. Fall armyworm flights were heavy but recently slowed down. Pasture conditions were improving, and cattle were in good condition.

PANHANDLE: While some areas of the district received scattered showers, most counties reported high winds and hot, dry conditions that left subsoil and topsoil moisture adequate to short. Wheat harvest was nearly complete. Corn in many counties was in good condition, with most pivots running constantly. Dryland cotton was released or awaiting assessments by insurance companies due to very little emergence with short or no moisture. Irrigated cotton was doing well with most acres already receiving two or more irrigations. The wind and hot, dry conditions were detrimental to cotton progress in Randall County, while in Lipscomb County, cotton was showing signs of wet weather blight. Weeds were also a problem throughout the district. Rain and cooler temperatures were needed for crops to progress. Pastures and rangelands across the district were in fair to poor condition.

NORTH: Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels ranged from mostly adequate to short across the counties, with some reporting very short. Hot and dry conditions persisted. No significant rainfall was reported. Temperatures were in the high 90s, with heat indexes above 100 degrees. Winds were 10-15 mph consistently and continued to dry the soil moisture. Pastures were showing drought stress. Hay harvest continued but was slow due to lack of moisture. Yields were about half of what they were last year. Wheat harvest was almost complete. This year’s crop was averaging yields of 40-60 bushels per acre. Corn, cotton and soybeans needed rain. Cattle looked good, but the declining grass and blistering heat has taken a toll on them.

FAR WEST: No report.

WEST CENTRAL: Hot, dry and windy conditions took its toll on crops and pastures. Dryland grain sorghum and cotton was struggling. Irrigated fields were doing okay, but rain would help. Pastures were fair considering the dry conditions, but rain was needed very soon to keep them green. The cattle market remained active, and the demand was good. Stocker steers sold $3 higher per hundredweight while stocker heifers sold $5 higher. Feeder steers and heifers, packer cows, bulls and replacement cows all sold steady.

SOUTHEAST: The rice crop was progressing. There was a considerable amount of rice heading and flowering. Heavy thunderstorms were projected, which will be good for dry pastures but not for flowering rice. Pastures responded well to rains. Livestock were in good condition. Hay producers were in good shape with recent rains, and some started making their second cuttings. Field crops were variable as corn did not benefit from the rains. Sorghum was finishing up, and some fields got rain at the right time. Younger cotton benefited most from recent rains, but older cotton near cutout was not helped as much. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied from excellent to very poor with fair ratings being most common. Soil-moisture levels ranged from adequate to very short with adequate being most common.

SOUTHWEST: Conditions remained very dry and hot throughout the counties. Rangeland and pasture conditions remained poor as well throughout the counties. Water availability and supplemental feeding continued for livestock and wildlife.

SOUTH: Northern and western parts of the district reported continued hot and dry weather conditions with short to very short moisture levels. Eastern parts of the district reported rainfall and wet weather conditions with surplus to adequate soil moisture levels. Zapata County reported trace amounts of rain to 4 inches. Conditions were hot and dry in southernmost parts of the district with adequate to very short soil moisture. Flooding with some crop damage was reported in southern parts of the district. Temperatures were above 100 degrees every day in some areas. Soil moisture levels declined in areas that did not receive moisture. Stock tank water levels declined in dry areas, but were replenished in areas that received significant rain. Body conditions scores on cattle remained fair. Corn continued to mature and dry out. In Live Oak County, sorghum and corn harvest was beginning and cotton fields were progressing rapidly due to recent rainfalls and hot weather. Insect activity on cotton remained in check. Watermelons were harvested. Peanut fields were emerged and under irrigation. Irrigated Bermuda grass was being cut and baled. Pasture and rangeland conditions were in poor condition in some areas, fair in other areas while areas that received recent rains improved immediately. Supplemental feeding activity was reported by producers with livestock on native rangeland and pastures. Some overstocked small acreage livestock producers reported selling off livestock to lighten grazing pressure on native rangeland and pastures. The live cattle market was surprisingly on an upward trend in Brooks County for the past few reporting periods.

Source: Texas AgriLife Extension

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