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Drought expands causing 'problems across the board in Texas'

Triple digit temps plus little rain leave Texas corn and wheat in bad shape.

Triple digit temperatures and little precipitation were reported across Texas last week. Drought in the state has expanded, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released today. 

Exceptional drought, D4, spans much of central and west Texas covering 16% of the state. Almost 28% of Texas is suffering from extreme drought. Conditions across the rest of the state are rated 21% severe drought, 21% moderate drought, and 10% abnormally dry. Less than 4% of the state is without drought concerns including parts of four northeastern counties and the southern tip of the state.

Top soil moisture was rated 59% very short, 34% short, 7% adequate, 0% surplus in Monday’s Crop Progress Report. Subsoil moisture levels in the state were rated 54% very short, 38% short, 8% adequate, and 0% surplus.

“The drought and the heat are creating problems across the board in Texas,” explains Texas agriculture commissioner Sid Miller. “It’s also impacting our grasslands and will have a large impact on cattle, poultry, and other livestock. Cotton, wheat, and sorghum are also reporting poor to very poor conditions. One of our big concerns in Texas is fire; we’ve had over a half million acres of farm and ranch land burn since the beginning of the year.”

As of June 26, Texas A&M Forest Service and local fire departments have responded to 5,393 wildfires for 545,830 acres.

“Presently our staff is focusing our efforts to ensure that farmers and ranchers are aware of the programs and resources that are available to help them get past these current challenges,” Miller adds.

Map of Texas temperatures
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Texas Crop Conditions

Corn

With 8% rated in very poor condition, Texas continues to have the worst corn in the country, according to USDA’s June 27 Crop Progress Report. Corn was rated 30% poor, 38% fair, 19% good, and 5% excellent.

At 70%, corn silking is 10% ahead of the five-year average pace of 60%. This is a 9% increase since the week prior.

“Corn in the South Central, the Blacklands, and the Northern High Plains has been reported as drying too fast due to heat,” the report said.

Map of Texas precipitation
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Wheat

Texas also has the worst wheat condition of the top 18 winter wheat growing states. Wheat in the Lone Star state was rated 60% very poor, 23% poor, 12% fair, 4% good, 1% excellent.

“In the Blacklands, wheat harvest has concluded,” said the USDA Monday. “Wheat harvest continues in the Northern High Plains. Harvesting was delayed due to hot and dry weather conditions.”

Statewide, the department reported that harvest was 80% complete, up 8% from the previous week, and 1% ahead of the five-year average.

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

Livestock, Range, and Pasture

“Cattle is being culled and fed on supplemental feed across the Northern High Plains, the Cross Timbers, North East Texas, the Trans-Pecos, and the Edwards Plateau,” USDA reported Monday. “There has been an increase in grasshoppers in the Cross Timbers and South East Texas. Pasture and range land are becoming stressed in the Southern High Plains, the Southern Low Plains, the Cross Timers, the Blacklands, North East Texas, South East Texas, and the Edwards Plateau due to excessive heat and low moisture.”

Pasture and range condition was rated 43% very poor, 32% poor, 18% fair, 7% good, and 0% excellent.

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