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Peanut harvesting is underway, and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts expect average yields and low prices for producers. Dr. Calvin Trostle, AgriLife Extension agronomist, Lubbock, said digging on early planted peanuts and mature varieties have specialists and producers expecting an average year for the crop.
Trostle said peanut producers in Terry, Yoakum and Gaines counties, where more than 80 percent of West Texas’ peanut acres are normally planted, were concerned about their fields in mid-summer. Conditions were hot and dry from June through July, and irrigation was having trouble keeping up with plants’ daily water requirements.
On a windy 93-degree day with low humidity, peanuts could easily use 0.4 of an inch of water each day, which pushes weekly water requirements to around 3 inches, Trostle said.
“Peanuts have a higher water requirement than most crops in the area,” he said. “There was some significant concern among producers until the rains arrived in August and September.”
Trostle heard of no insect issues in peanut fields this year. But diseases, such as pod rot and leaf spot, may have affected some growers.
“I think the heat stress was the main concern but there was some talk about diseases,” he said. “But most producers make fungicide applications as part of their management to ensure pod rot is held in check. But some years, certain conditions can mean more applications or use of more expensive applications to address those problems.”
Producers began harvesting Valencia and Spanish peanuts two weeks ago and fields with runner and Virginia peanuts will likely be dug through the next few weeks, Trostle said. Conditions and forecasts for final maturation of those fields and harvest time appear to be good with no signs of frost.
Trostle said expectations are for an average year for nearly 100,000 irrigated acres of peanuts planted this year in West Texas.
“That means some fields will do very well, in the 5,000 pounds per acre to upwards of 6,000 pounds, but some irrigated fields that might have received less rain or had less irrigation capacity might be in the 2,500-3,000-pound range,” Trostle said.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
CENTRAL: Producers were holding off planting small grains due to armyworms. Field work continued with most crops harvested except for cotton, which was wrapping up. Pasture growth slowed due to cooler morning temperatures. Pecans were looking good in managed orchards. Auctions reported higher prices on steers, slaughter bulls and cows. Prices on bred cows were steady. Cattle were in good condition. All counties reported good soil moisture. Nearly all counties reported good overall range and pasture conditions, and most reported fair crop conditions.
ROLLING PLAINS: Rain fell for the third straight week in parts of the district. Totals ranged from 1-4 inches, and some hail was reported. Pastures and rangeland were in good condition. Fall armyworms continued to give wheat producers problems. Cotton was opening and looked promising. Producers continued to put up hay. Livestock were in good condition.
COASTAL BEND: Unseasonably warm temperatures in the low 90s were reported. Rain late in the week shut down picking with only a few acres of cotton left to harvest. Very little farming activity occurred because of wet soil conditions, but land was drying. Producers worked fallow land where they were able. Pecan harvest should begin soon. Winter pasture planting continued. Pastures looked really good with the exception of armyworm damage in some areas. Producers were making hay, but some were opting to not cut due to ample supply. Cattle were in good to excellent condition.
EAST: Dry weather continued across the region. Pasture and range conditions were fair to good. Counties needed rain. Soil moisture levels continued to decrease. Subsoil was mostly adequate, and topsoil was short to adequate. Pastures were drying up. Grass growth was starting to slow due to lack of moisture and cooler nights. Many producers were getting the last cutting of hay. In Trinity County, producers worried they would not get another cutting of hay. Some producers were still buying out-of-county hay. Producers in Wood and Smith counties were waiting for moisture before planting winter pastures. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Fall calving and cattle work were underway. Weaning and selling of market-ready calves and cull cows continued in Polk County. The cattle market continued to drop. Some Trinity County producers were selling calves even if they were not market-ready because they feared the market would continue downward as some economist predicted. Horn fly numbers increased on cattle. Wild pigs continued to be active. Chinch bugs were causing damage to home lawns.
SOUTH PLAINS: Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels in Cochran County are still adequate. Producers continued corn harvest and dug peanuts. Cotton was finishing out, and sorghum continued to mature. Pastures and rangeland were in good condition, as were cattle. Warm dry conditions allowed some Floyd County farmers to start applying harvest aids to cotton. Field activities included late-season weed control, cotton defoliation and harvest of grain crops and cotton. Several Lubbock County cotton gins started ginning. In Lynn County, recent brief rains slowed down cotton harvest. Scurry County had a cold front move in with trace amounts of rainfall. Cool temperatures were expected. Wheat planted in early September could use moisture.
PANHANDLE: Above-average temperatures were reported. Soil moisture levels varied from very short to adequate with most reporting adequate. Deaf Smith County producers harvested corn and grain sorghum fields as quickly as possible. Most corn was harvested, and grain sorghum harvest was going to stretch out this year due to a wide range of maturity in fields. Moore County reported average corn yields. Cotton was coming along even with the cooler temperatures. Some cotton started to open, and several fields will receive harvest-aide chemicals soon. Winter wheat was planted with earlier planted fields up and looking good but in need of a rain. Cattle looked good. Rangeland and pastures varied in rating from poor to excellent, with most reported fair to good.
NORTH: Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels varied from adequate to short. Weather was very dry with mild temperatures. Stock ponds were 3-4 feet low in many areas. Nighttime temperatures dropped into the 40s and 50s. Livestock were being watched for signs of illness. Summer grasses were shutting down. Producers held off planting winter pastures until the threat of armyworms lessens and more precipitation comes. Soybean harvests continued, and the cotton harvest had begun. Farmers started to plant wheat and oats. A few ranchers baled some late hay. Wild hogs were still causing damage. Fly and mosquito numbers were high.
FAR WEST: Temperatures were in the low 90s but dropped drastically with a cold front. Rain showers occurred. Rain amounts ranged up to 1.5 inches. Rangeland grasses were showing stress in drier areas. Many producers defoliated more cotton and were waiting on plants to die. High humidity was slowing producer activities. Yields were decent so far. Wheat planting started. Supplemental feeding of livestock and wildlife continued.
WEST CENTRAL: Cooler weather and scattered showers were reported. Cotton was maturing and bolls were opening. Pasture conditions were good with the exception of broomweed. Rain delayed some wheat planting and other field work. Armyworms continued to be a problem. Livestock remained in good condition, and stock tanks were mostly full. Pecans were progressing with above average yields in most orchards. Livestock producers have not planted winter wheat for fear of armyworm infestation.
SOUTHEAST: There was still rice in the field in Chambers County. Livestock were in good condition with plenty of grass. Hay producers put up additional hay. Cotton farmers were finally making progress, but yields and quality were low. Cool season forages were planted. Waller and Brazos counties experienced cooler temperatures. Overall humidity was low. Livestock looked good. Topsoil moisture was beginning to decline. Soil moisture levels ranged widely from adequate to surplus, with most ratings in the adequate range.
SOUTHWEST: Dry conditions continued with no precipitation forecast. Pecan harvests were underway. Some pecans were affected by scab and mildew due to high humidity. Pasture and rangeland conditions were good. Wildlife and livestock were in good condition.
SOUTH: Temperatures began to cool in the evenings but remained warm in the day. Some spotty showers were reported in some areas, but soil moisture levels were declining. Peanut harvest preparations continued. Irrigation on crops including wheat continued. Wheat and oat planting continued. Peanut fields were under irrigation and being prepared for harvest. The cotton harvest was complete except for late-season fields. Most rangeland and pasture conditions remained good, but some areas were turning brown, and grazing was fair. Some hay was baled, but forage production was slowing due to declining moisture levels. Fall armyworms remained a potential problem. Body condition scores on cattle remained excellent. Soil moisture conditions were mostly adequate with some areas reporting short moisture levels. Cattle prices were trending downward. Livestock markets reported an increase in volume sold. Market conditions dropped significantly in one county with 500-pound steers averaging 96 cents per pound down from $1.14 reported the previous week and down from $1.65 per pound at the start of the year. Ponds were full and in some instances overflowing a bit, with good, continual rainfall. Sugarcane and citrus harvesting began in Hidalgo County.
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