COLLEGE STATION – April showers delivered moisture around the state, but so far May has been one for the ages when it comes to rainfall, said the Texas State Climatologist.
Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon said rainfall amounts have been more than double normal, averaging more than 7 inches, due to several lines of storms across the state since April 1. The drought monitor showed all parts of the state had received enough moisture to leave “drought” status, though some areas are still “abnormally dry.”
“We were below normal in some areas for the first few months of 2019, but April showers brought us up to normal for the calendar year,” he said. “In the past 30 days, most of the state received two to four times normal rainfall, and that includes areas like the Pecos River to Northeast Texas.”
The first 12 days of May were among the 10 wettest from west central to north central, central, southeast and northeast Texas, and were the wettest start to May on record for Austin, College Station and Tyler.
Tyler experienced its wettest 12-month period ending May 12 in 105 years, he said, and Dallas experienced its second wettest in 120 years over the same period. Many other areas around the state also recorded some of their highest recorded 12-month rainfall amounts in more than a century during the same time.
Nielsen-Gammon said parts of Far West and South Texas had received less than average precipitation over the past 30 days. Cameron County, for example, has received near-average amounts over the last 90 days, but only one quarter of its average rainfall, while the rest of the state deals with deluges.
Saturated soils, standing water and major flooding have been reported in many parts of the state, according to county reports. Wet conditions have caused delays to fieldwork and crop planting. Flooding has caused crop losses in some areas.
“Most river gauges in East Texas showed at least minor flooding,” he said. “The Brazos and
Trinity rivers reached major flood stages and many areas in Southeast Texas, including Houston and Beaumont, received a lot of rain, 10-20 inches over seven days.”
On the positive side, Nielsen-Gammon said rains were key for keeping summer temperatures relatively mild.
“The longer the rains persist, the better the outlook for avoiding extreme heat in the summertime,” he said.
Statewide, temperatures have been within a few degrees of normal high and low temperatures, he said. Daytime temperatures were slightly higher and nighttime temperatures were slightly lower on average in the Panhandle and High Plains this spring.
“We’ve gotten used to drier-than-normal Mays, so when we get a wet one it really stands out,” he said.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
CENTRAL: Widespread rain halted field progress. Flooding occurred in some areas. Corn and sorghum started to turn yellow due to saturated soils. Livestock were in good condition, and producers were baling hay where possible. Wheat and oats were drying well, but wet conditions have prolonged the dry-down period. Stock tanks were full and running over their dams. Ryegrass and other cool-season annuals continued to offer good grazing for livestock. Warm-season forages were slow to grow due to cooler and wetter conditions. Farmers were expected to finish planting cotton when conditions dry. All counties reported good soil moisture. Overall crop, rangeland and pasture conditions were good in nearly all counties.
ROLLING PLAINS: Conditions continued to improve for area producers. The district received several inches of rainfall over the past several weeks. The soil moisture profile was in excellent condition. Winter wheat fields looked very good with the exception of some areas experiencing rust. Livestock were also in good condition with supplemental feeding on a small scale. Cotton farmers continued to prepare fields and were expected to begin planting in the next 3-4 weeks.
COASTAL BEND: Good general rains, up to 5 inches in some areas, were received across the district. Soil moisture was abundant in most areas. Corn and grain sorghum were in excellent condition. Earlier planted corn was tasseling. Cotton was showing some stress and inconsistent stands due to excess moisture. Herbicide and fertilizer applications continued on pastures as weather allowed. Weed issues were increasing because producers were unable to apply pre-emergent herbicides or rainfall reduced their effectiveness. Some hay fields were close to their first cutting. Livestock were in excellent condition with lush grasses available. Rice planting was near completion but delayed due to rain.
EAST: Excessive rainfall continued to hamper fieldwork. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were mostly surplus with fair to good pasture and rangeland conditions. Tyler County reported poor conditions. Jasper County reported 5-8 inches of rain, which affected some vegetable crops. Ryegrass in Harrison County needed baling, but the ground was too wet for hay to cure. Producers were talking about haylage, baleage and silage instead of baling hay. The Trinity River was out of its banks and covered much of the land bordering it. Flooding was also reported in Smith County. Ponds and creeks were full in Cherokee County. Several counties reported damaging hail, wind and rain. Crops not drowned or blown away were growing good in Sabine County. Cattle prices were steady. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Fly numbers were increasing. Wild pigs continued to cause a lot of damage.
SOUTH PLAINS: Big storms passed through Swisher County, bringing five reported tornadoes, damaging hail and 1.5-6 inches of rainfall. Some wheat was damaged by the hail. Wheat was harvested for hay and ensilage. Temperatures were cooler with lows in the 40s. Recent moisture improved subsoil and topsoil moisture levels. Pasture, rangeland and winter wheat should react well to the moisture. Rains also supplied much-needed moisture to emerging corn. Stock tanks were filling. Cattle were in good condition.
PANHANDLE: Producers were assessing hail and wind damage to small-grain crops. Farm work halted due to rainfall. Producers were waiting for warmer and dryer weather to plant cotton and corn. Rangelands were green and looked in excellent condition. Wheat progress was good.
NORTH: Soil moisture was adequate to surplus. Rainfall amounts were 1.5-9 inches across the district. Pastures and meadows were in standing water, which hindered producers’ ability to work in fields. Creeks were overflowing, and there were reports of dams breaking and algae blooms in stock tanks and ponds. Most wheat and oat fields were still maturing with very little lodging occurring. Hay producers were ready to cut, but wet conditions continued to hamper their efforts. Cattle looked healthy. Some wheat producers were spraying for armyworms, but only a few reported heavy infestations.
FAR WEST: Temperatures ranged from the low-90s to the low-40s. Precipitation amounts ranged from a trace up to 1 inch. The increase in cool, wet weather delayed activity in some counties. While some counties reported cotton emergence, some were unable to plant due to low soil temperatures. Corn, sorghum and watermelons were growing slowly and needed some sun. Alfalfa fields were bouncing back from alfalfa weevil damage and lack of irrigation water. Pecan trees were still dropping tassels and doing well with limited irrigation water. Pecan nut casebearer moths were found in traps. Insect problems were starting to increase due to increased moisture. Producers reported pastures were greener than in a very long time and providing animals plenty of forage. Marketing and shipping of lambs finished.
WEST CENTRAL: The district received plenty of moisture this reporting period. Spring and early summer grazing should be abundant this season. Wheat will be cut soon if it can dry enough. Yields were expected to be well above average. Cotton planting should begin soon, and expectations were good if producers can plant in time. Sorghum and haygrazer emerged, but some was damaged from standing water. Livestock were in good condition. Demand for cattle was good with an active market on choice offerings of calves and yearlings selling $5 higher per hundredweight. Lesser conditioned stocker steers and heifers sold steady. Feeder steers were steady to $4 lower depending on condition, and feeder heifers were $3-$5 lower per hundredweight with futures expected to move downward.
SOUTHEAST: Several counties received heavy rains. Chambers County reported 7-9 inches of rain. Flooding occurred, and water was still trying to run off. Galveston, Jefferson, Lee and Brazos counties also reported widespread flooding. Walker County reported abundant soil moisture. Jefferson County rice fields were soggy or flooded. Rains halted rice plantings as the final planting date for rice neared. Most river levels were very high. Rangeland and pasture ratings were excellent to poor with good being most common. Soil moisture levels were adequate to surplus with surplus being most common.
SOUTHWEST: Much-needed rain covered the district with 1-8 inches of rain. Rangelands, pastures and hay fields reaped the benefits, and conditions continued to improve. Corn was thriving, and winter wheat should be harvested promptly. Early peaches were coming off trees. River, spring and creek flow increased. Livestock were in excellent condition.
SOUTH: Northern parts of the district reported mild weather conditions while western, eastern and southern parts reported wet conditions. Soil moisture levels were mostly adequate in most areas and short in some areas. Rainfall amounts ranged from zero up to 6 inches. More rain was in the seven-day forecast, and producers hoped to avoid damaging storms. Frio County reported scattered rains with amounts ranging from 1.5-3 inches. Live Oak County reported 3-6 inches of rain. Zapata County reported trace amounts up to almost 2 inches of rain. Wheat harvest began but was halted due to rainfall. Red potato harvest began. Corn entered the tassel stage. Sorghum was in the boot stage. Cotton was in the four-leaf stage. Crop, pasture and rangeland conditions were fair to good and improving. Producers reported the cowherd had never been in such good shape at this time of season. Beef cattle sale volumes slowed following rains. Supplemental feeding of livestock stopped. Most vegetable crops were emerging and in good condition. Pecan orchards were in good condition. Onion and cabbage harvests were delayed by rains. Late-planted spinach was harvested despite wet field conditions. Deer breeders were feeding supplements to their wildlife.