Rain has helped restore winter wheat and allowed some late plantings of winter pastures, say Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel. But in many areas - the Coastal Bend, much of eastern, southern, southwestern and west-central Texas - soil-moisture levels have rapidly dropped, according to reports.
“Some producers are being forced to feed hay already due to the lack of forage availability in their pasture," says Jennifer Allen, AgriLife Extension agent based in Crockett, west of Lufkin. Houston County, like much of East Texas, has seen some recent rains, but it remains very dry, she adds. "Soil moisture is very low due to this dry spell and fall forage production has suffered greatly.”
North of Tyler, conditions were a little better, says Clint Perkins, AgriLife Extension agent for Wood County. Recent rains have allowed producers to start planting winter pastures to make up for short hay supplies and summer grasses hammered by a mid-summer drought. The plantings are late, however, and some producers have had to start feeding hay about a month early.
"We have enough hay to get by if we have a normal winter, but we need more rain to get the winter pastures up and going," Perkins says.
Harrison County has been drier than much of East Texas, says Randy Reeves, AgriLife Extension agent in Marshall. "Conditions are better with some recent rainfall, but overall, conditions are still dry. Winter pasture planting has been severely delayed or is non-existent."
In the Coastal Bend area, it was as if someone turned off the spigot come March, says Ron Holcomb, AgriLife Extension agent for agriculture in Liberty County, northeast of Houston.
"Until last night (Nov. 1), we had been dry for about 45 days," Holcomb says. "This rain will help get ryegrass up that was already scratched in, but we're not out of the woods yet."