Texas Spring Crops on Track After Prior Years of Drought and Flooding

Producers around the state are finding conditions more favorable for planting early crops compared to last year, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service reports.

Dr. Ronnie Schnell, AgriLife Extension agronomist in College Station, said corn and sorghum producers are on or a little ahead of schedule with plantings as soil conditions appear to be favorable because of winter moisture and timely spring rains. Fields in the Brazos Valley are in much better condition than last year, when torrential rains delayed plantings for months in some cases.

Schnell said some farmers started early to avoid possible delays. He said some corn is already emerging in the region.

“There was good winter moisture and a dry out that gave them the ability to get into their fields to plant before these recent rains,” he said. “I don’t think everyone was finished but there was a lot of activity and I think a lot of the fields are planted.”

Dr. Gaylon Morgan, AgriLife Extension agronomist in College Station, said cotton fields in the Rio Grande Valley were 80 percent planted and overall there have been few delays up to this point. Morgan said mild winter conditions spurred farmers to plant rather than risk rain delays.

“Most producers in the (Rio Grande) Valley planted earlier than usual because they were gun-shy after what happened last year when it was wet and stayed wet,” he said. “They wanted to get it in.”

Morgan said moisture levels were looking good around the state and that 2016 has been a return to normal so far — compared to prior years of drought and flood. He said soil in some areas would be full of moisture 2-4 feet deep, which would be beneficial to rooting plants between rains.

The rains were helpful to many areas and crops, but the precipitation and subsequent humidity is causing problems for wheat fields around the state, said Dr. Clark Neely, AgriLife Extension specialist in College Station. Wheat rust has been reported around the state, and recent rains and overall humidity levels could provide ideal conditions for the disease.

“There’s a lot of rust being reported and rain only helps facilitate the disease’s development,” he said. “The reports we’ve seen in January and February are indicative of a bad rust year.”

Warmer- than-usual temperatures put wheat two weeks ahead of schedule and have producers concerned about possible freezes that could damage fields. There were 5.3 million acres of wheat compared to 6 million acres planted last year, a 12 percent decrease.

Despite concerns, Neely said overall the wheat crop is in good shape. Most of the state’s production is concentrated in the Rolling Plains and High Plains areas, which benefitted from the recent rains, he said.

“All these rains that might have hurt us helped them,” he said.

AgriLife Extension district summaries can be found here.

Source: Texas AgriLife

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