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Texas has the worst corn in the country, drought largely to blame

Just 32% of the Texas corn crop is in good/excellent condition.

Texas has the worst corn condition in the country, according to USDA's Crop Progress Report released June 21. Widespread, intense drought is largely to blame.

Crops in Texas

Just 32% of the Lone Star state’s corn crop is in good/excellent condition, according to the Crop Progress Report released June 21. USDA says 11% of the Texas corn crop is in very poor condition.

Cotton condition in Texas was rated 13% very poor, 27% poor, 41% fair, 18% good, and 1% excellent. Due to recent rain and hail activity in the Northern High Plains some cotton fields there have failed.

USDA rated Texas sorghum 14% very poor, 21% poor, 45% fair, 19% good, and 1% excellent, according to its latest report.

Winter wheat condition in Texas was rated 60% very poor, 23% poor, 12% fair, 4% good, 1% excellent. “Some small grain producers in the Blacklands wrapped up their harvest or neared closer towards completion. Winter wheat producers in the Northern High Plains reported varying yields while some producers in the Blacklands grazed out their plantings,” says USDA.

The Texas oat crop was rated 48% very poor, 30% poor, 13% fair, 8% good, 1% excellent.

“Crop farmers across the state are looking at yield declines for all commodities due to lack of moisture. In some parts of the state, irrigated fields could be the only ones harvested. In other parts of the state where the crops are more established, their yields will be off,” say Tracy Tomascik and Brant Wilbourn of Texas Farm Bureau Commodity and Regulatory Activities.

Livestock in Texas

Range and pasture conditions are rated 72%, very poor to poor. Supplemental feeding continued for livestock throughout the state last week. “In the Blacklands, livestock continued to suffer from flies and parasites due to the hot temperatures,” says USDA.

“Drought conditions have persisted long enough that ranchers are already drawing from supplemental feed supplies usually retained for winter months. Many have already started herd reductions, which ultimately means lower production levels across the state for years to come,” add Tomascik and Wilbourn.

Texas drought and weather

Struggling crops and livestock are a symptom of widespread drought in the state. Over 17% of Texas reports D4, exceptional drought, a slight increase from last week. D3, extreme drought, covers more than 26% of the state. Just 7% of the state, primarily in south central and northeast Texas are free of drought conditions.

Map of Texas drought
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

The Crop Progress Report indicated Texas topsoil moisture levels were rated 53% very short, 35% short, 12% adequate, and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels in the state were rated 49% very short, 39% short, 12% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Widespread drought has made the region vulnerable to wildfires. More than 527,000 acres across Texas have burned in 2022. There are currently burn bans in 160 of Texas’ 254 counties.

“The drought that has been carried over from the spring into the summer has initiated an early start to summer fire season. Early summer drying in June also introduces the possibility of experiencing a severe late summer fire season,” says Brad Smith, Texas A&M Forest Service Predictive Services Department Head.

“State and local first responders have been incredibly busy this year without much reprieve and forecast conditions indicate that we may be facing a very busy summer season as well,” says Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief. “We urge Texans to be cautious and prevent wildfire ignitions this summer.”

Heat advisories are in place for central and east central Texas through Friday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

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