COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — The following reports were compiled by AgriLife Extension Service for the week of Jan. 21:
Central: Most counties reported soil moisture, rangeland, pastures and overall crop conditions as good. Livestock were in fair condition. Unfortunately, the last two weeks of cold, damp weather was not associated with any significant precipitation. Conditions were just wet enough to keep cotton and pecan producers from being able to complete harvesting. Soil moisture was good, but heavy rains were needed to fill stock tanks and lakes. The hard freezes and damp weather during December and January slowed the growth of oats and wheat. Livestock were in moderate to good condition. Livestock producers were providing supplemental feed, and cattle were in fair condition.
Coastal Bend: Soil moisture was good; topsoils were saturated. Most of January was cloudy, cold and rainy, putting fieldwork and preplant fertilizer applications at a standstill. Winter grasses were poised for good growth when they get sunshine. Volunteer winter forages were coming along nicely. Livestock producers were feeding hay and protein. Markets continued to be high. The pecan harvest was nearly completed.
East: The region had abundant moisture and cooler temperatures. Lakes, ponds and creeks were full to overflowing. Jasper County reported flooding. Subsoil and topsoil moisture were mostly adequate throughout the region, with many counties reporting surplus levels. Most producers were feeding hay and other supplements. Hay sales were slow as most producers' supplies were sufficient. Saturated soils kept some producers from entering fields to feed hay. Lack of sunshine slowed winter pasture growth. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Cattle prices remained strong. Houston County cotton farmers were considering not planting crops in 2015 due to low market prices and high labor and equipment costs.
Far West: Conditions were very cold with all moisture coming in the form of freezing rain or drizzle. Topsoil moisture was mostly adequate to short, while subsoil moisture was short. Pastures and rangeland were mostly in fair to poor condition. Andrews County pecans were 95 percent harvested. The Upton County upland cotton harvest was completed. Winter wheat was mostly in poor to very poor condition.
North: Topsoil moisture was mostly adequate with a few counties reporting shortages. Much-needed rain during the first three weeks of January was accompanied by colder temperatures. The rains benefited wheat, oats and winter annual pastures. Runoff also helped replenish stock ponds. Winter pastures were still short, but it was hoped that forecasted warmer weather would soon jumpstart ryegrass growth. The rains made muddy conditions for cattle producers trying to feed cattle during the cold weather. Some cattle producers had to pull cattle off winter pastures because of soggy, muddy soils. Feral hog activity was spotty.
Panhandle: Snow accumulations varied across the district, from a light dusting to several inches, as did the moisture associated with it. Conditions then warmed up and became dry and dusty in most areas. Producers in several areas were trying to finish up cotton harvesting after being kept out of fields by the snows and below-freezing temperatures. The winter wheat crop benefited where there was heavier snowfall, but others were seeing the crop decline. Some producers may start irrigating wheat with the warmer temperatures. Cattle on wheat pasture were making good gains, although supplemental feeding was required. Some stocker cattle were already being taken off wheat.
Rolling Plains: The region had precipitation in January, but not enough to create runoff for stock tanks and lakes. Much of the area remained in exceptional drought. Livestock were generally in fair to good condition, with many producers feeding hay and supplements. Damp days and overcast conditions delayed the cotton harvest, but it was nearing completion. Pastures were greening up with winter grasses. Pecan crop yields were fair to good, with harvesting winding down.
South: The region continued to be cold, wet and cloudy. In the northern part of the region, soil moisture was 75 to 100 percent adequate. Frio County crop producers continued planting throughout the week. La Salle County received so much rain there were areas with standing water. In McMullen County, some cow herds were calving. Supplemental feeding increased in McMullen and surrounding counties. In the eastern part of the region, continual drizzle and light rains raised soil moisture. Duval County reported 60 percent adequate, Jim Hogg County 50 percent adequate, and Jim Wells, Kleberg and Kenedy counties had 100 percent adequate soil moisture. Jim Hogg County ranchers continued supplemental feeding of wildlife and livestock. Jim Wells County row crop producers were planting. In the western part of the region, soil moisture ranged from 100 percent adequate to 75 percent short. Maverick County producers were preparing fields for spring planting. Some producers had already planted winter oats. In Zavala County, cold and damp conditions delayed the harvesting of fresh and processing spinach. Onions, cabbage, wheat and oats were progressing well. Webb County ranchers reduced supplemental feeding as cattle had good winter grazing. In the southern part of the region, soil moisture was 100 percent adequate in Cameron County, 100 percent surplus in Hidalgo County, 80 to 90 percent surplus in Willacy County and 80 percent short in Starr County. Vegetables were progressing well. Field operations halted, but citrus and vegetable harvesting continued in Hidalgo County. In Starr County, winter vegetable crops were progressing well. In Willacy County, very wet field conditions put sorghum growers behind in planting.
South Plains: Topsoil and subsoil moisture were improved by recent snowfall. The moisture from the snow was particularly beneficial to winter wheat. Pastures and rangeland remained in fair condition. Mornings were cold and wet, with weather clearing in the afternoons, which allowed producers to continue harvesting. Most cotton was harvested, with only a few fields left to do in several counties. Most area gins were very close to finishing up the season. Lubbock County reported the official precipitation for January as 0.49 inches. Producers were shredding cotton stalks and planting wheat cover behind late-harvested cotton. Due to low cotton prices and high input costs, farmers were weighing options for the crop mix for spring.
Southwest: Conditions were unseasonably cold and damp but there was no associated precipitation and little sunshine. Winter forage was doing well in ranges and pastures. Wheat and oats were in good condition. The pecan harvest was winding down. Farmers were getting ready for spring planting. The cold, damp weather was hard on livestock, making supplemental feeding of hay and protein essential to keep them in fair to good condition.
West Central: The region remained mostly dry, with temperatures changing from cold to warmer late in the week. Most days were cool with cold nights. Soil moisture was adequate, but all areas could have used more moisture. The cotton harvest was mostly completed, with ginning a few weeks behind. Some cotton that remained in fields was being shredded. Most winter wheat was in good condition, with producers spraying some fields for worms and spider mites. Some wheat fields showed signs of recent freeze damage. Rangeland and pastures were in fair to poor condition, but needed rain for improvement. Winter pastures looked good, but most cattle producers were still feeding hay and supplements. Livestock were in fair to good condition as the calving season began. Yearling cattle on grain were doing very well. Stock tank water levels continued to drop. The pecan harvest was mostly completed.