Weeks of frequent rainfall have southeastern Texas hay producers crying uncle, according to Wayne Thompson, Texas Cooperative Extension agent for agriculture in Harris County. "There has just been too much rain," he says. "And just like we had problems with weeds that are drought-tolerant a while back during the drought, now we're having problems with weeds that are tolerant to excessive rain."Sedges are out of control in most pastures, he reports. "The soil is saturated, and the rain will carry away nitrogen fertilizers used to improve the soil," Thompson states. "This year's hay is likely to be high in fiber and low in protein because the producers can't get to the fields at the right time to cut it. And, when they do get it cut, it rains again and they can't bale it."
Drier weather allowed hay growers to cut and bale last week in the Rolling Plains region of the state. Hayfields are making excellent growth with improved soil moisture and warm temperatures. Many growers are harvesting their second cutting of high-quality forage. Grasshoppers are damaging some hayfields, but in most cases the damage doesn't warrant control. Livestock are in good to excellent condition.
Hay producers in northern Texas can't cut and bale because of the rain. The summer hay crops are maturing past the optimal periods of nutritional value. Soil moisture is surplus with heavy rains continuing. Moderate flooding has been reported along the Red River. Wet conditions are hindering grain harvest, too. Some winter wheat and oats have been harvested; small grains remaining in fields are essentially lost. Some fields where shattering occurred are showing 3-4" of regrowth.
Many hay producers in Eastern Texas have lost two hay cuttings because of rain. Pastures are too wet to run equipment to cut and bale hay or spray for weeds. Two recent rain systems caused severe flood damage to the entire district. Some counties received as much as 10" of rainfall. Extension agents worked with USDA to assess water damage. County judges have declared a local state of emergency and are requesting a disaster declaration from the governor's office and Federal Emergency Management Agency. More than 50 roads have extensive erosion, and more than 30 culverts and bridges were destroyed. Local producers' roads and pond dams were also damaged. Hundreds of acres are still under water; the extent of the damage is as yet undetermined.
Wet conditions delayed hay harvesting in west-central Texas. Crops continue to thrive due to recent rainfall. Rains have stopped in the southeastern part of the state, and producers are cutting and baling hay.
Source: Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University.
"We've had good yields this year," says Larry Krepline, Reedsville, who chops corn silage and haylage, mows alfalfa, bales big square bales and combines grain for more than 30 customers. "First-crop hay was tremendous; second crop was average and we're just getting ready to start third-crop hay. It did get dry here in the last month and a half. We're getting 2/10ths of an inch here and there - not getting much, but just enough to keep everything looking healthy."
Krepline will be part of a Hay & Forage Grower story on autosteer that will appear in mailboxes the middle of August. The custom operator has also offered tips on how he establishes custom rates. To see it, visit www.hayandforage.com/. Contact Krepline at 920-772-4004.