UVALDE – Higher-than-normal temperatures have extended the growing season for some producers but challenged product quality in winter crops, said a Texas A&M AgriLife expert.
Temperatures were still reaching the mid-80s around the district, which was good for some producers, but not ideal for others, said Dr. Larry Stein, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist, Uvalde.
“We’ve been exceptionally warm with one cool front,” he said. “Temperatures are expected to cool some in the next week or so, but it’s been interesting.”
Stein said producers who planted spring crops for fall, including squash and peppers, were benefitting from unusually warm temperatures.
“Those producers are happy to have their fields still producing high-value crops,” he said.
Disease pressure has been low due to the dry conditions, he said, though there has been an increase in pest pressure from worms due to warmer temperatures.
Tremendous rain events last year caused disease issues for fall and winter crops, but those same rains followed by spring rain events replenished water reservoirs for irrigation.
Overall conditions are also good for typical winter crops such as cabbage and spinach, but Stein said those plant species mature better in cooler temperatures.
Spinach has been planted during the last four weeks and performing well under irrigation, he said. Plantings and harvests should continue until February.
Cabbage planted in late July looked good, and broccoli was coming on as well, Stein said. He said the warm weather likely affected cabbage yields because plants fill out better under cooler temperatures.
“We’ve got the International Spinach Conference in San Antonio in late November and first of December, so we hope to have some good fields to tour by that time,” he said.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
CENTRAL: Central Texas experienced warm and windy days, which decreased soil moisture. Pastures were in good shape for this time of the year, and stock ponds were holding water. Corn silage harvests continued with good yields. Pecan harvests were taking place for early varieties. Pecans looked good. Winter wheat planting started. Rain was needed to bring small grains up. There was plenty of hay supplies to get through the winter months. Livestock were in good condition with some supplemental hay and feed. Cattle prices were still dropping. Fall armyworm numbers decreased. Most counties reported good soil moisture and overall rangeland and pasture conditions. Overall crop conditions were mostly fair.
ROLLING PLAINS: Temperatures were unusually warm for the end of October. Pastures were starting to look a little dry as winter approaches and forages go into dormant stages. Wheat was planted and looked very good. Producers were busy planning for winter. Livestock were in good shape with little to no supplementation. Area gins were beginning to process cotton.
COASTAL BEND: Weather conditions were very dry but favorable for field work in some areas as growers prepared for a new year. Row-crop producers reported difficulty preparing seedbeds due to dry, hard, cloddy soil. Further disking and bedding was delayed until some rainfall can loosen the soil. Pecan harvests were underway, and planted oats did not germinate due to lack of moisture. There were some fall herbicide applications mainly targeting huisache and other brush species. Pastures were drying up quickly, and some field work still continued. Remaining hay fields were cut and baled. Livestock were doing well, and cattle remained in fair to good condition.
EAST: Dry, warm weather continued around the district. All counties needed rain. A few scattered showers fell and helped some producers with emerged crops while other producers lost crops to drought conditions. Smith County ryegrass and clover germinated and was growing. In most counties, pastures and hay fields were dry. Pasture and range conditions were mostly fair. Many plowed and planted fields were not growing anything at all. Fields were void of any vegetation. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were short. Last of hay was out of the fields except for counties that received more rain. Producers were breaking ground for winter pastures. Shelby County was under a burn ban. Livestock condition remained fair to good. Spring calves were mostly all gone. Fall calving and cattle work was well underway. Market prices were a little better in Houston County. Wild pigs were active in several counties. Armyworm infestations were still a problem for some producers in Cherokee County.
SOUTH PLAINS: Cotton harvests were slow with many producers waiting for a freeze. Some cotton was defoliated. Cochran County topsoil and subsoil moisture levels dropped. Producers continued to harvest. Winter wheat was being planted. Pastures and rangeland remained in fair to good condition. Warm and dry weather conditions in Floyd County allowed farmers in the field to harvest cotton. Harvests were rolling at this point and will continue to do so as long as the weather stays nice. Lubbock County experienced above normal temperatures and open weather, with no freeze in the forecast. However, humidity was very high in the mornings. Wheat needed rain.
PANHANDLE: Dry and above–normal temperatures continued for the district. All-time high temperatures were recorded. Moisture was needed throughout the district. Moisture levels varied in ratings from adequate to very short with most reporting short. Dallam and Hartley counties were unseasonably warm and dry. Corn harvests were winding down with yields mostly average to below average. Wheat was planted behind harvested summer crops. Earlier plantings looked good and appeared ready to be stocked with cattle soon. Wheat was irrigated, and dryland fields did not look good. Pumpkin harvests were complete. Producers were still harvesting sunflowers, sorghum and cotton. Cattle were in good condition. The warm sunny weather delayed weaning of spring calves for many producers. Dry conditions also delayed winter wheat grazing. Some cattle were being turned out on corn stalks. Deaf Smith County lacked several corn fields to complete harvest. Cotton looked exceptional in many fields, and harvest aides were being applied. Some harvested cotton fields yielded 3.5-4 bales per acre. Sugarcane aphids were still a challenge in remaining sorghum fields. Hansford County corn harvests were winding down with some late fields left to cut. Milo harvests started and was going well. Soybean harvests were almost finished.
NORTH: Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels varied from adequate to short and were decreasing.
Weather was very dry and unusually hot. Temperatures were in the upper 80s. No new forage growth was reported. Grasses continued to decline. Cotton harvests were still underway. Wheat and oats that were up and growing and looked good despite fall armyworms. Farmers who planted wheat early have had to spray at least one time, and a lot of producers have waited in an effort to avoid the worms. Soybean producers were busy harvesting and should be wrapping up soon. Cattle were weaned and heavy with plenty of grass. Market prices were still low. Livestock were in good condition moving into winter. Pond levels dropped. Grasshoppers continued to be a problem in isolated areas. Producers reported late-season weeds were above normal.
FAR WEST: Temperature highs were in the mid-80s with lows in the 50s. No rain occurred. Rangeland grasses were stressed and yellowing. Cotton harvests continued, and yields averaged better than last season. Gins were running behind. Wheat for grazing emerged and was maintaining. Alfalfa looked good for another cutting. Chilies were harvested. Supplemental feeding continued for livestock and wildlife.
WEST CENTRAL: Temperatures were very warm and dry for this time of year. Forages and leaves were still green but needed rain. Cotton was harvested with above average yields reported. Early planted winter wheat was in good to excellent condition, but fall armyworms continued to be a problem. Grain planting continued. Stock tanks and livestock remained in good condition. Deer looked good. Early pecans were starting to drop, and harvest was starting.
SOUTHEAST: The district experienced dry conditions. Most producers stored hay in anticipation of cold fronts. Winter pasture plantings were put off until better chances for rain were forecast. The forecast called for moisture and cool temperatures. Planting will take place if rains materialize. Tractors were in fields working the ground in preparation for rice this spring. Livestock and pastures were in good condition. Remaining cotton and soybeans will likely have insurance claims filed and be destroyed. Weather was unusually hot, which has prolonged insect issues. Cool-season forages, which emerged with prior showers, were drying up. Subsoil moisture reserves helped encourage germination of seeded ground, but rain was needed to prevent loss. Waller County implemented a burn ban. The lack of rain continued to stress the plants and animals. Lee County experienced very foggy, humid mornings. Soil moisture levels throughout the region ranged widely from adequate to very short, with most ratings adequate. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely too, from excellent to very poor, with fair ratings most common.
SOUTHWEST: Cooler temperatures allowed producers to work on livestock and manage wildlife. Dry weather remained throughout the county, and topsoil moisture levels decreased over recent weeks. No rain was forecast. Lack of rain presented a problem as small grains were not emerging. Available forage was beginning to decline. Pecan harvests continued. Livestock remained in good condition.
SOUTH: Hot daytime and cool nighttime temperatures continued throughout the district. Temperatures reached the upper 80s in some areas and cooled slightly in others. A couple areas received between 0.50 of an inch to 2 inches of rain, while most areas continued to experience dry conditions. Pastures and rangelands were declining and beginning to dry out and turn brown in some areas. As a result, supplemental feed increased. Producers planted wheat. Peanut harvesting was in full swing. Cattle body condition scores remained good. Deer and quail populations remained in great shape for the hunting season. Hay producers were busy harvesting, and the abundance of hay in the area was driving prices down. Fair quality hay was sold for $25 per round bale, and good quality hay was about $35 per round bale. Local cattle markets continued to experience above-average volumes with decreased prices noted in all classes. Most warm-season grasses and forages were going into dormancy. Irrigated cabbage, spinach and onions made good progress. Some cabbage fields were approaching harvest stage. Pecan harvest was underway. Ginning facilities were running at full capacity. Corn under irrigation continued to progress. The sugarcane and citrus harvests continued.