COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — The following reports were compiled by AgriLife Extension Service for the week of March 4:
Central: All counties reporting had good soil moisture, with rangeland, pasture and crop conditions rated as fair. The region received bountiful moisture in the forms of sleet, rain and snow. More winter precipitation was expected the middle of the first week of March. Travel was hazardous. Producers were waiting on drier and warmer conditions to start planting row crops. While the moisture halted field preparations, it helped maintain soil moisture and stock-tank levels. Livestock were generally in good condition, with producers supplying extra hay and protein.
Coastal Bend: Conditions continued to be cool and wet in most areas, which delayed or slowed planting for many farmers. Recent rains increased soil moisture and improved rangeland and pasture conditions. Many producers were waiting for warmer soils before planting grain sorghum and cotton. Although temperatures were somewhat cool, many did start planting corn and planned to continue unless the land becomes too wet. A few farmers are able to fertilize, spray for weeds and do pre-plant fertilizer applications. Winter wheat was in good condition, with little foliar disease observed so far.
East: Winter weather took a toll on agriculture. Most counties had freezing temperatures along with rain, sleet and snow. Wood County received as much as 5 inches of snow. All counties had at least adequate subsoil and topsoil moisture, with many reporting surplus levels. However, saturated soils made it difficult for row crop and truck farmers to enter the fields. Clover growth was at a standstill because of the colder temperatures, but ryegrass and small grains were beginning to grow. Cattle lost some body condition, but were generally rated as fair as the spring calving season progressed. Cattle producers were feeding hay and supplements. Hay supplies were fair to good. Feeder calf prices were lower, while the prices of bred cows, cow/calf pairs and bulls remained firm. Pruning of fruit trees continued. Upshur County continued feral hog and gopher control.
Far West: Pasture and rangeland ratings varied widely, from very poor to excellent, with poor being the most common rating. Topsoil moisture varied widely too, from 90 percent very short to 100 percent fair, with adequate being the most common rating. Subsoil moisture varied too, with adequate being most common. Pecan growers were cleaning up orchards, and hedging and pruning. Cotton growers were preparing land for planting. Alfalfa was coming out of dormancy and under irrigation. Limited irrigation water in some areas was affecting planting decisions. Weeds were abundant in the pastures due to the fall and winter precipitation. Terrell County was under a burn ban.
North: Topsoil moisture was mostly adequate to surplus. Winter accumulations of snow and sleet improved moisture conditions, pastures and meadows. Stock ponds were almost full, and lake levels began to rise. Winter forage production improved. Fieldwork, however, was halted by the wet conditions. Hay feeding and supplemental feeding was necessary for all livestock. Several days of cold, snow and ice were hard on livestock, particularly on cows that were calving. Wild hogs continued to cause damage.
Panhandle: Most of the region began the week with a wintery mix of snow, sleet and ice. Temperatures were below-average for most of the week, but later dipping down in the single digits. The weekend brought more snow and ice. Most of Collingsworth County received 2 to 3 inches of snow. Dallam County received 4 to 6 inches of snow in separate events through the week. Deaf Smith County producers received freezing drizzle and 3 to 7 inches of snow. Hansford County received about 6 inches of snow and ice. Hemphill County reported 3 to 7 inches of snow. Warm temperatures on March 1 melted snow and ice, providing soil moisture. Soil moisture continued to vary county to county, with most reporting short to adequate. The wintery weather stopped most farmers from preparing fields for planting. Ranchers were busy feeding cattle and breaking ice so cattle could drink. Those with cows that were calving lost some newborns to the freezing weather. Winter wheat, both irrigated and dryland, was in good shape. The additional moisture from the snowmelt was expected to help the wheat crop well into the spring, raising the potential for good yields this summer. Stocker cattle were being placed out on wheat, with some acres probably grazed out rather than harvested as grain. Some producers were moving stocker cattle off of wheat, but the big runs were yet to start. Producers were still debating what to plant this spring. Ochiltree County reported that though wheat was much improved thanks to a light snow, subsoil moisture was still very poor. Despite the cold weather, tumbleweeds were already springing up.
Rolling Plains: The region received another snowfall, with accumulations ranging from 1.5 to 8 inches. The snow blanketed most of the region, supplying good amounts of moisture. Accompanying the snow were extremely cold temperatures with wind chills dipping into the single digits. The moisture from the snow was welcome as soil moisture was low. Even with the moisture from the snow, subsoil moisture was still low. However, producers hoped the snow will give pasture and rangeland grasses, and crops the moisture it needs to begin this year. Cattle remained in fair to good condition, and livestock producers were supplementing cattle with hay and protein cubes. Peaches were in tight-bud stage. Stock tank and lake levels remained low.