All major grain-producing areas experiencing some level of drought
By Robert Burns
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Though grain crops in the upper Gulf Coast, Central Texas and North Texas started off this year with much better moisture conditions than those in the High Plains, it’s the “same old song and dance” there when it comes to moisture, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
“We need help from Mother Nature pretty soon to maintain yield potentials,” said Ronnie Schnell, AgriLife Extension state cropping systems specialist, College Station.
The upper Gulf Coast, the Blacklands and North Texas had good moisture at planting times, but most of the grain crop right now could really use a good rain, he said. Planting was in early March in the Central and North regions and mid- to late-February in the Gulf Coast area.
Areas in the northern Blacklands have received a little more rain than the Central and Gulf Coast region, Schnell said. Crops in all three areas are still OK, but they won’t stay that way long without rain in the next week or so.
There were also some freezes that delayed planting in some areas, as well as some late freezes that damaged corn in the northern Blacklands and resulted in replanting of other crops, he said, but the real issue remains moisture.
According to the April 29 U.S. Drought Monitor, drought conditions continued to worsen in the Panhandle, Rolling Plains, South Plains and parts of Central Texas. West of the U.S. Interstate 35 corridor, the monitor rated drought conditions as “exceptional” or “extreme” over large areas.
“Over the past three months, the area of the state under at least moderate drought has increased from about 50 percent to almost 75 percent,” Schnell said. “At this point, all major grain-producing areas of the state are experiencing some level of drought.”
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/.