As predicted in March, this year’s peach crop is turning out to be one of the best in many years. In March, Dr. Larry Stein, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist at Uvalde, noted that peaches throughout the state had experienced some of the best chilling hours they had in years.
“Chilling hours” refer to the number of hours of temperature between 32 and 45 degrees that fruit trees need to break dormancy. The minimum number of chilling hours a peach tree needs to produce a good crop differs with the variety, but this year all trees received what they needed and more, he said.
At that time, Stein joked that he feared that being too optimistic might “jinx” the crop, as there was still the remote chance that a light freeze could decimate an otherwise good crop. But that fear turned out to be ungrounded.
If there were any challenges, they were from rains coming in some areas every two or three days, which increased disease problems, particularly brown rot, a fungus that infects the fruit, shoots and flowers of peaches.
“We had rain early, and the brown-rot pressure was intense, but the guys who were on top of it adequately controlled it,” he said. “The fruit quality is outstanding, large peaches and of good flavor, and the consumer should be able find plenty of quality Texas peaches this year.”
Stein said the harvest is about mid-stage, and there’s not much that could derail the crop, except for an extended wet period.
“We need some sunny days throughout the next few weeks for yields and quality to reach their full potential.”
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
Central: Soil moisture, overall rangeland and pastures, crops and livestock were all rated as being in good condition. Wheat yields were mostly average with some light bushel weights and some sprout discounts. The condition of the corn crop was highly variable from row to row in the fields. Some corn was severely stunted from too much moisture, while plants a few rows over looked extremely good. Stock-water tanks were full. Cattle were in good condition. Sugarcane aphid pressure on sorghum was very low. Pastures were in great condition due to the growth of warm-season grasses and record rainfall. Rivers were flowing. The Brazos River was still in its banks, and there were no forecasts of flooding. The second cutting of hay was growing and looking good.
Coastal Bend: The region had a few spotty showers over the weekend, with lower-than-normal temperatures. Field crops and pastures still needed to dry out after the rains from Tropical Storm Bill. There were also reports of slight to severe wind damage to grain sorghum and corn. However, cows with calves at their sides were in great condition as grass was abundant. There were reports of Bermuda grass stem maggots, a relatively new pest to Texas, in several fields. Some insect pressure was observed in grain sorghum fields, primarily stinkbugs and head worms, as well as some aphids. Cotton looked good for most part, although some fields still had plants with yellowed leaves from the excessive moisture. Also, some cotton was dropping squares or not setting bolls.
East: Some counties received scattered showers, but generally fields and pastures continued to dry out across the region. Windy weather and higher temperatures dried out topsoils. Most counties had adequate topsoil and subsoil moisture. Many producers took advantage of these conditions to bale hay and spray herbicides. Fertilizer trucks were able to get back into the fields. Some producers were still waiting for fields to dry out. Hay quality was a concern as many producers had not been able fertilize fields on time or harvest before grasses over-matured due to wet conditions. However, hay yields were high. Cattle were in good condition. The weaning and selling of market-ready calves and cull cows continued. Prices remained high. Fruit and vegetable harvests were underway. The watermelon crop was of good quality, and demand was high. Horn flies were abundant. Feral hogs continued to be a problem.
Far West: Thunderstorms, some severe, swept through parts of the region and passed over others. Glasscock County had cooler temperatures early in the week with no rain. Parts of Brewster and Jeff Davis counties received widely scattered thunderstorms that dropped from 0 .2 inch to 1.5 inches of rain. Culberson County also had cooler temperatures, with highs only reaching the upper-80s, and precipitation ranging from 0.5 to 0.7 inch across the county. Hudspeth, Ward, Upton, Winkler and Loving counties had scattered showers, hail and high winds. Northern Reagan County had heavy hailstorms with several fields being totaled and others being evaluated for damage. Most hail-damaged crops in Pecos County were already replanted. El Paso County had isolated thunderstorms with temperatures in the mid-90s. Alfalfa growers were taking a fourth cutting, Pecans were developing. Cotton began squaring. Winter wheat was being harvested. Pasture and rangeland conditions were fair. Topsoil and subsoil moisture was adequate.
North: Topsoil moisture was mostly adequate. Weather was generally dry with warmer temperatures, though some areas received a cool front with light rain on June 21. Some farmers were able to plant grain sorghum, though others elected not to plant due to all the rain and it being late in the season. Almost all wheat was harvested. Late-planted cotton emerged. Soybeans and pastures looked pretty good. Cattle were fat and in good shape despite the grass being watery and weak from all the rain. Wild hogs continued to cause damage. Fly and mosquito numbers were very high. Immature grasshoppers were seen in some areas.
Panhandle: The region was dry and windy, with near-average temperatures. Soil moisture was mostly adequate. The warmer temperatures provided much-needed heat units for cotton. Cotton that survived the excess moisture, storms and cool temperatures looked strong and healthy. Pastures were rated good to fair. Deaf Smith County producers were busy trying to play catch-up from after being stalled out by weather. Crop dusters were flying and ground rigs running in the effort to control weeds. Some wheat being harvested, but it was too soon to determine average yields but some producers were getting 40 to 80 bushels per acre on their irrigated fields. Some dryland wheat looked promising, but very little was harvested to date. Deaf Smith County farmers were also planting sunflowers and grain sorghum. Insect problems were generally low, though in isolated instances some insect traps were catching an abnormally high number of Southwestern corn borers. Hansford County wheat yields were good, but weights were low. However, producers were just starting to cut the better-looking fields. Corn, cotton and sorghum all looked good. Not much cotton was able to be planted in Hansford County, so some wheat fields will be planted in grain sorghum after wheat harvest.
Rolling Plains: The wheat harvest continued to drag on across parts of the region because of muddy fields, but harvesting was expected to be wrapped up by the first week of July if there was no more delay due to rain. Cotton producers generally had good stands, although some heavy rains during planting did cause some fields to emerge unevenly and may require touch-up planting. Grasshoppers took the edges of some fields, especially in pastures. Otherwise, pastures were in good condition and stock-water tanks were full. The hay harvest was in full swing with extremely high yields. The peach harvest was ongoing with good yields and high quality. Pecan growers were spraying orchards with fungicides to prevent scab due to the moist conditions.
South: Light but widespread showers occurred throughout the region. The combination of isolated showers and warm temperatures helped rangeland, pastures and crops. In the northern part of the region, hay was being cut and baled. Livestock were doing very well. In Frio County, warm and humid temperatures helped dry out conditions for field activities. Potato harvesting and peanut planting continued. Stock-water tank levels improved. Soil moisture conditions were 80 to 100 percent adequate in the northern counties. In the eastern part of the region, rangeland and pasture were producing good-quality forage, but supplemental feeding of hay and protein was still necessary in some areas. In Jim Wells County, sunny and drier conditions allowed row crops to progress well. Early planted grain fields looked good, while later-planted fields had considerable weed and insect pressure. Weed pressure in rangeland and pastures was also an issue. Soil moisture ranged from 50 percent adequate to 100 percent surplus in the eastern counties. In the western part of the region, showers made for favorable forage production conditions. In Zavala County, the ground dried out enough to allow producers to do fieldwork. Watermelon harvesting was about to start, and cotton, corn, sorghum and melons were progressing well. Soil moisture was generally adequate in the western counties. In the southern part of the region, higher temperatures favored crop development. Cotton and grain sorghum were progressing well. Cotton was in the flowering stage, and grain sorghum was maturing. Some sorghum harvesting took place late in the week in isolated areas. In Hidalgo County, more rain hampered sugarcane and sunflower harvesting. Soil moisture was generally adequate in the southern counties.
South Plains: The wheat harvest in Floyd and Bailey counties was ongoing, with yields above average in most instances. Producers in both counties were ready for another rain to keep the cotton, corn and milo fields’ great start keep going. Cochran subsoils and topsoils dried out due to warm temperatures and wind. Otherwise, all crops remained in excellent condition but would benefit from rain. Producers began to supplement with irrigation. Pastures and rangeland were in good shape even though conditions were dry. Lubbock County cotton ranged in development stage from three-to-four true leaves to six true leaves. Many fields were expected to start squaring next week. Weed pressure was heavy. Despite using residual herbicides, producers also had to cultivate to manage weeds. Grain sorghum ranged from emergence to the seven-leaf stage. Some cornfields neared tasseling. Garza County cotton was a little late but progressing well. Some isolated locations were beginning to square, but most fields were in the three-to-five true leaf stage. Rangeland and pastures were in good shape, and livestock remained in good condition. Scurry County cotton planting was done, and producers were running sand fighters and spraying for weeds.
Southeast: Soil moisture throughout the region varied widely, but was mostly adequate to surplus. Rangeland and pasture ratings were mostly good to excellent, with good ratings the most common. Generally drier conditions throughout the region allowed producers to get back in fields to spray for weeds and pests, and harvest hay. In Walker County, rising insect pressure caused some issues with vegetable crops. In Chambers County, it remained too wet to get much fieldwork done. More organic rice was “mudded in” — planted in fields that had standing water. There was abundant grass, but most of it was over-mature and of low nutritive value. Only a few hay producers were able to take a first cutting. Fort Bend County row crop producers were able to get back in the field at the end of last week. They sprayed grain sorghum for head worms and stink bugs, and cotton for fleahoppers and weeds. Livestock were doing well.
Southwest: The weather was remained unseasonably cool. Hay production was in full swing, and it was expected that most hay reserves would be high, resulting in surplus hay for sale. Grain crops looked unbelievably good, and were expected to produce record-breaking yields. Peach growers were having a great year in terms of quality, quantity, sales and price. Most counties responded well to all the rain and were healing from the drought. Early summer rains benefited corn, sorghum and cotton. Pastures and rangeland conditions further improved. External parasites, especially mosquitoes, in livestock became more prevalent.
West Central: The region was mostly hot, dry and humid, with a few scattered showers. Daytime temperatures were in the mid- to upper-90s with mild nights. Row crops were off to a good start with plentiful moisture and favorable growing conditions. Producers sprayed for weeds in cotton fields. Cotton planting continued in some areas. Hay crops and grain sorghum looked very good. The first cutting of hay was high in quality. Producers expected to take a second cutting soon. Growers were monitoring fields for sugarcane aphids in sorghum and insect pests in cotton. The wheat harvest was mostly completed. Most wheat fields had good yields. Some fields had hail damage and sprouting in seed heads due to continued wet conditions. Rangeland and pastures further improved due to recent rains. Livestock were in good to excellent condition. Most stock-water tanks were brim full. Flies were abundant and continue to be an issue for livestock producers.