Texas Crop and Weather Report

Heavy spring rains have home gardens looking good

LIBERTY — Plenty of moisture could mean a good year for home gardeners looking to save money on vegetables and fruits, but it could also mean an emergence of problems such as weeds, pests and disease, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

AgriLife Extension agent Roy Flora, Liberty County, said spring rains have been good for most home gardeners with well drained plots. Rain may have delayed crop planting, but plants are reacting well to the moisture.

Experienced home gardeners who use raised beds, containers or established good drainage were doing well, he said.

“Everyone is different depending on how they manage their drainage, but well-drained gardens are looking good,” he said. “We’ve got a test plot we use for instruction and the corn, peas and tomatoes were all planted late, but have taken off.”

Flora said there are concerns the excessive water may cause disease and insect pest problems. He added there are concerns about fungus because of cooler-than-usual temperatures and wet conditions and noted questions from area residents about pests are increasing.

Calls for advice about leaf damage during Flora’s monthly call-in radio show have been trending upward, he said, and the abundance of water has allowed insects to establish in areas they had not been during years of drought.

Flora recommends gardeners monitor plants for pests and be ready to initiate a control plan if signs of an infestation are present. He also said releasing ladybugs could be a proactive measure to deal with aphids and other pests as well.

Flora said gardeners should also be mindful of the soil’s moisture levels.

“A lot of people overwater,” he said. “Dig down 1-2 inches to see how deep the moisture goes. Right now the ground is so saturated.”

Gardeners should also be aware of possible nitrogen deficiencies related to plant growth following rains, he said. Nitrogen feeds plant growth and phosphorous feeds root growth and may need to be added.

Overall, Flora said, the amount of nitrogen infused natural water, which is also free of chlorine, should boost plant growth. As long as gardeners avoid potential problems with drainage, disease and pests, home gardens should be shaping up well as we enter hotter, drier months.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

CENTRAL: Conditions were wet from around 12 inches of rainfall and hay was expected to be cut after things dry up somewhat. While wheat damage was not specifically known, wheat and oat harvest was delayed. Planted wheat appeared to start sprouting, but producers said if the harvest was delayed too long the whole crop will be a loss. The oat harvest was doing well with decent yields of 70-80 bushels per acre. Producers expected oats to start shattering and losing seed soon. Corn started to show damage. Nitrogen leaching, as well as aeration issues and erosion, took a toll. Pest pressure was low. Grain sorghum continued to look good. Cattle were in good body condition with plenty of water and good grazing. Mosquito populations were increasing. Counties reported 100 percent good soil moisture and overall range and pasture conditions. Overall crop conditions were 80 percent fair and overall livestock and cattle conditions were 100 percent good.

ROLLING PLAINS: It was extremely wet in the district. There were reports of flooding throughout some counties and of multiple road closures. Due to the abundance of rainfall, all field work and harvest activity was delayed a few days at least. There were growing concerns about the quality of the wheat harvest and also pre-harvest sprout. Native and improved forages continued to thrive, however producers said dry days would help their growing process. Livestock were in good condition. Livestock tanks and reservoirs were full, and some were overflowing.

COASTAL BEND: Scattered rain fell all week with between 1-3 inches reported. Some severe weather with wind and small hail were also reported. The Colorado River caused flooding of crop fields and grazing pastures for the third time since April 19. Many rivers and streams were out of their banks and waterlogged conditions prevailed. Soil moisture conditions were high with fields saturated; however, due to the excessive moisture, some row crops started to suffer. Corn and sorghum looked excellent with the exception of spots where drainage was an issue. Some farmers reported issues with their rice crops due to heavy rains. Mosquitoes were thick and getting worse. High insect activity and head worms were reported in some sorghum fields. Hay operations were at a standstill, but any break in weather was expected to help toward high yields. Pastures were lush but soggy and in need of some drying time. Herbicide applications were delayed due to wet conditions in areas with some harvest aid being applied but not on large scale at this time. Cattle were doing well with lots of forage, although some foot rot was an issue in some areas.

EAST: Heavy rainfall and storms pushed through the region. Low-lying areas of creeks and river bottoms flooded. Areas that had receded from previous rains were once again flooded in Trinity County. Ponds were full and overflowing. Most counties reported good pasture and range conditions. Topsoil and subsoil conditions were adequate to surplus. Pastures were too wet to drive tractors on. Saturated ground delayed hay baling and weed spraying in pastures. Vegetable harvest was also slowed or delayed. Onions, tomatoes, squash and other vegetables were being harvested and marketed around Smith County. Cattle were in good condition. Cattle prices in Gregg County dropped a little. Cows were gaining weight and calves were growing. Panola County reported heavier worm loads as well as high horn fly numbers, causing many producers to implement different management programs. Feral hog damages were reported.

SOUTH PLAINS: Rain amounts totaled 2-10 inches during the last 30 days. Recent rains in Cochran County improved subsoil and topsoil moisture levels. Producers continued to complete planting. Crops and cattle were in good condition. Pasture, rangeland and winter wheat were expected to improve with recent moisture. Widespread rain fell across Crosby County this week with an estimated total of 1.5 inches. Cotton planted prior to May 20 did not look great. Floyd County received between 1.5-2 inches of rain, and the ground was very saturated. The rain was expected to help newly planted crops. The large majority of the cotton was planted and starting to emerge with only a handful of fields remaining to plant. Weather was cool and wet in Hockley County. There were cooler temperatures, isolated small hail and localized flooding in urban and low-lying areas of Lubbock County. Although planting progress was hampered by heavy rains in some places, producers worked hard to meet planting deadlines for crop insurance purposes. Mitchell County producers received anywhere from 0.4-2 inches of rainfall. Producers in Scurry County received from 3-6 inches of rain. Fields were very wet, but the forecast called for dry and warm conditions. Cotton planting was expected to be in full swing as soon as fields dry enough. Yoakum County producers had two days of heavy rain, but no hail damage was reported.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were near to below normal for this time of year. Moisture was received in most areas along with hail in some areas. Soil moisture was rated mostly short to adequate. Cotton was in need of heat units. Collingsworth County conditions were beginning to dry out. Warm weather coupled with moisture from the last rain event sped up planting progress. Wheat harvest was expected to begin in full force soon. Deaf Smith County producers were busy trying to wrap up plantings and prepare for the wheat harvest. The area corn crop looked very good with the recent rains and irrigation inputs. Cotton struggled to emerge with recent cool and damp weather. The area wheat crop benefited from rain, and producers looked for an earlier-than-normal harvest. Hall County rains and flooding continued to wash crops away and delay planting. Producers said warm dry days would be needed to get their crops in. Pastures looked extremely good, and cattle body condition scores continued to improve. Hail damaged several wheat fields in Hansford County, and some flooded from rain. Cotton planted before the rain may not come up. Some cotton had emerged, but there were reports of many lost fields and some replantings. Corn was still being planted, and much of it that was already planted had come up and looked good. Pastures for cattle were lush and green, but insect pests on animals were becoming a problem. Weeds were expected to become a problem soon if not controlled. Randall County received about 1.5 inches of rain. Weather was mostly rainy to cloudy and cool. Cotton and sorghum planting were expected to resume along with the wheat harvest once fields dry. Some cotton may need to be replanted due to seedling issues from the cloudy weather. Wheeler County received 1-3 inches of rain. Field conditions were too wet to finish planting cotton and haygrazer. Some cotton will have to be replanted due to hail. Horn flies were a problem in many herds due to rains. Cattle were in good condition. Range and pastures continued to improve.

NORTH: Topsoil moisture was adequate to surplus throughout the counties. More rain fell and caused some flooding. Crops were overly wet. Some of the wheat and oats were ready for harvest, but the rain and muddy conditions were expected to require several days of sunshine and wind to dry fields. The corn and milo crops looked good, but producers worried they may start yellowing after all the rain. Most of the corn was in the silking stage. Hay crop quantities were excellent this year, and hay quality was good for those lucky enough to get bales put up in time. Cattle looked good with the abundance of grass and were healthy for the most part. Fly and mosquito numbers were up, and wild hogs continued to cause damage.

FAR WEST: Culberson County received 0.45-2.5 inches of rain and seasonal temperatures. Glasscock County experienced cool, wet conditions. Cotton planting made good progress, but emergence and growth were very slow because of cool, overcast weather. Wheat harvest progressed with dryland yields going over 40 bushels per acre. Sorghum grew at a slow pace, but corn looked to be in excellent shape. Howard County received a surplus of rain accompanied by warm conditions. Hudspeth County had small scattered showers across the lower half of the county. Conditions in Reagan County were great for this time of year. Both Val Verde and Andrews counties received good rains. Parts of Ward County received up to 3 inches of rain. Pasture conditions were expected to improve, with the recent rains leaving local ranchers optimistic about summer grazing conditions. Rain in Crane County greened up rangeland. Ector County was cloudy and cool with 1-3 inches of rain. Wind, hail and lightning were factors affecting plants and trees in the region. Pastures in Crockett County were green, and livestock were doing well. Pasture and rangeland were in good condition across the district with topsoil, and subsoil moisture adequate.

WEST CENTRAL: Heavy rainfall continued, causing widespread flooding of creeks, rivers and stock tanks. Little to no rainfall was forecast over the next few weeks. Fields were still too wet for any harvest or planting. Spring field crop planting and harvesting were expected to resume as soon as weather permits and fields to dry out sufficiently. Wet conditions were expected to possibly soon cause diseases in crops. Prospects for a good wheat crop were dwindling due to the moisture. Farmers were concerned that wheat heads will start sprouting soon. Farmers who did get wheat out of the fields last week had yields of 45-60 bushels per acre for dryland wheat. A few producers were able to get some cotton planted before the rain, but most believe they will need to replant. Corn and sorghum emerged, but the moisture had producers worried about future problems with disease and pests. Producers were unable to spray for weeds which were becoming an issue in fields and pastures. Range and pastures were very wet but in excellent condition. Cool-season grasses started to die out and were expected to exacerbate wildfire conditions soon. Most winter wheat had been grazed out by livestock. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Heavy yearling cattle were all shipped. Some producers with sheep and goats battled stomach worms in their livestock. Flies were abundant and requiring treatment in facilities and on livestock. Standing water in fields were expected to present mosquito issues in the near future as well.

SOUTHEAST: The district experienced widespread flooding. Brazoria, Orange, Walker, Hardin, Brazos and Montgomery counties all reported flooding and damage, especially in low-lying areas. Heavy rains in Harris County continued to degrade land in most areas. Jefferson County received a surplus of rain which has made crop, field and pasture conditions poor and unable to be worked. Rice still looked good in most areas, though some fields were showing signs of stress. Soil moisture levels throughout the region were mostly in the surplus range. Waller, Fort Bend, Galveston, Brazos, Brazoria, Hardin, Orange, Walker, Liberty, Montgomery, Jefferson and San Jacinto reported 100 percent surplus. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely too, mostly from fair to very poor, with poor ratings being the most common. Jefferson County reported 100 percent poor.

SOUTHWEST: Wet weather conditions continued, and wheat had not been harvested because producers couldn’t access fields. Corn and milo looked good, but cotton needed some drier weather. Some areas flooded, which caused damage to fencing, structures and trees. No hay was baled due to wet weather. Rangeland was mostly in fair condition. Mosquito populations had increased, and some fungus on peaches and vegetables were starting to show up. Overall, the district had plenty of soil moisture following recent rains. External parasites were becoming a concern to livestock producers, and spring shearing was almost complete.

SOUTH: Conditions throughout the district were cloudy and wet. Conditions were good in Atascosa County with plenty of soil moisture. Pastures were in really good condition, but crop plantings were delayed due to rain. Crops needed sunshine. In Frio County, temperatures were mild with scattered rainfall. The potato harvest continued. Peanut planting also continued and should be completed sometime soon. Also in Frio County, early planted cotton was beginning to enter the squaring stage, sorghum was in the heading stage and corn was in the maturing stage. Pasture and range conditions were good to very good. McMullen County received scattered showers, and range and pasture conditions continued to improve with soil moisture. Some isolated thunderstorms produced 4 inches of rain. Most areas received over 2-3.5 inches total over three events. As a result, range and pasture conditions greened up and grazing conditions were improving. Body condition scores on cattle improved from fair to good. Brooks County received more than 5 inches of rain. Field and pasture conditions were expected to improve. Jim Wells County received 1.5-2 inches of rain with some areas reporting 5 inches. No major damage related to the storms was reported in the county. Row crops and pastures looked great in Jim Wells County. Tropical storm winds and more than 6 inches of rain were reported across Kleberg County. Some corn fields fell over as a result. Conditions remained favorable for forage production in the Dimmit County area. A uniform amount of rainfall was received, continuously improving range conditions throughout the county. In Webb County, temperatures were relatively cool. Around 3-4 inches of rainfall helped pasture and range conditions recover and green up. Some parts of Zapata County received good rain. The northern part of county received more rain resulting in good and green range and pastures. In Zavala County, rainfall kept producers out of fields. Native range and pasture conditions were mostly excellent. Although a few areas were heavily grazed earlier in the spring, pastures remained in fair to good condition. There was some supplemental feeding over the past month. Producers reported livestock conditions were good to excellent. Sorghum was expected to begin coloring by the middle of next week, corn and cotton made good progress and onion harvesting resumed. Some aphid activity was reported on sorghum but not at threshold levels. Cotton, grain sorghum and corn were progressing well in Cameron County. Some areas were saturated by 2-3 inch rains. Forage growing conditions were excellent, and livestock were in good to excellent conditions due to the excellent grazing conditions. In Hidalgo County, rainfall delayed the initiation of the grain sorghum harvest. Area landowners received 1.5-4 inches in Starr County. Range pastures improved and row crops progressed well throughout the area.