Most of state still under severe to exceptional drought
Cold fronts brought rain, from a trace to 2 inches or more, to much of the state recently, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
As usual, when it comes to weather, there were winners and losers. East Texas, North Texas, Central Texas and the Rolling Plains were the main beneficiaries, with the Coastal Bend, South Texas and Far West Texas regions being largely passed over, while the Panhandle and South Plains regions fell in between these extremes, according to weekly reports by AgriLife Extension county agents.
Where rain fell, cool-season grasses and winter wheat benefited, though the consensus, even where 2 inches or more fell, was that much more rain was needed to keep winter forages going.
In the western part of the Panhandle, the situation was pretty much representative for the region, according to Rick Aukerman, AgriLife Extension agent for Deaf Smith County, west of Amarillo.
Deaf Smith got about a half inch of rain in many areas, with more rain and snow forecast for Dec. 1 to 2, but it's a mixed blessing, Aukerman said.
"Typically, what's been happening here lately is that we haven't got very much moisture, and it just puts a halt to what's left to harvest," he said. "We still have a lot of people who are baling corn stalks and grain sorghum stalks, and anything else they can bale up for feed for the dairies and area feed yards, and they're wanting to get it out of the way. The cotton--what's left out there -- they at least want to get it off the stalk and into the modules."
Baled corn stalks were selling for $80 to $100 per ton in the field, according to Aukerman.
Aukerman said Deaf Smith producers are about 80 percent finished with the cotton harvest, and yields were down. The dryland cotton was non-existent, and most irrigated cotton yielded 650 to 750 pounds per acre, with isolated instances of 2.5 to three bales per acre where more water was available to pump.
The rain helped wheat in Deaf Smith County, as it did in many areas, he said. But the crop was still struggling as of Nov. 29, and some producers were running center-pivot irrigation early in hopes of producing forage for the stocker cattle.
Aukerman also noted that Deaf Smith County had only received 6.5 inches to date this year. The record for the least amount of rain for a year is 7.5 inches.
"At this rate, unfortunately, we will probably set a new record for the least amount of rain for the year," he said.
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought.