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2013-12-19

Despite some extremely dry areas, much of Texas looks green

By Robert Burns AgriLife TODAY

Pictured: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Steve Byrns
Icy, wet weather in West Central Texas brought much fieldwork to a standstill, but made for some great views.





Driving through Central Texas recently, Dr. Travis Miller said he saw a lot of green that wasn't there this time last year.
"There are certainly still some severely dry areas in the state," said Miller, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agronomist and Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences associate department head, College Station. "But over the last month to 60 days, we've had significant rainfall in a lot of Texas, and it's made a lot of difference."
The rains have perked up winter pastures and given wheat and oat crops a boost across much of the state, he said. The raised soil-moisture reserves, though still low in some areas, are much improved, giving farmers optimism for next year's plantings.
"The Rolling Plains and Northern Plains are still very dry, and conditions there aren't real favorable," Miller said. "We did see some pretty good snowfall in the South Plains last week, and it will certainly contribute to causing wheat stands to grow and survive longer. There was not a lot of deep moisture, but it certainly perked things up."
Far West Texas also got some rains, which will make a difference. Also, the cold weather should reduce insect problems for next year, he said.
There was some conjecture that the early bout of extremely cold weather in parts of the state might signal this winter being colder than normal, but Miller said national forecasts are predicting the opposite.
The forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for December through January was for above normal temperatures for most of Texas, 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/.
In Texas' Southwest region, of which Bandera County is a part, recent rains improved rangeland, pastures and row crops. Some counties reported temperatures dropping into the 30s and 40s.
The corn and cotton harvests were finished. Early plantings of wheat and oats for grazing were doing well. Pecan harvest reports were mixed, but most growers had a major drop in production to no production at all.