Peanut harvest has started across the state, and harvested acres provided good to great yields for Texas producers, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert. Dr. Jason Woodward, AgriLife Extension plant pathologist and statewide peanut specialist, Lubbock, said harvest is underway and progressing rapidly. Initial yield estimates are average to above-average in many cases.
Woodward said good moisture and mild weather in August and September created ideal soil conditions for the crop.
Although Texas peanut production represents a large economic impact for the state, planted acreage decreased compared to last year. Producers planted approximately 200,000 acres in 2017 compared to almost 300,000 acres in 2016.
“Last year was an anomaly,” he said. “There was a large increase in dryland acres because of a federal program that made peanuts a more attractive option for farmers. It’s back to around average this year.”
Woodward said Texas producers did face some disease issues this year, including leaf spot and pod rot in susceptible varieties. “Leaf spot issues were observed in some fields planted to Valencia and Spanish varieties,” he said. “And very few cases of severe pod rot were experienced in large part due to the efficacy of fungicides that were applied preventively.”
The first frost arrived in the region recently and slowed maturity.
“There was a mild freeze and if damage is observed on the vine, that will dictate when those fields are harvested,” he said. “I expect fields affected would be harvested as quickly as possible.”
Woodward said peanut prices aren’t as good as they could be, but that growers with bumper fields would likely have a good year when they go to market. But there is value in the crop beyond the market. Many producers utilize peanuts as a rotation crop with cotton.
“Planting peanuts benefits next year’s crop,” he said. “It helps growers with sustainability to rotate with peanuts. They fix nitrogen in the soil and lessen issues with pests. Peanuts are also good from a weed-management standpoint. Growers can treat weeds in peanuts with products that can’t be used in cotton.”
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
CENTRAL: Conditions were dry, but temperatures were cooler. Cotton and pecan harvests were going strong. Corn harvest was nearly complete. Dryland small grains were starting to suffer from lack of moisture. Some areas received a light frost, which caused spotty browning of pastures. Pastures were hit hard by armyworms. Cattle were doing well, and supplemental feeding was necessary for some locations. Stock tanks were showing signs of drought stress. Most counties reported good soil moisture. Nearly all counties reported good overall livestock, crop, and rangeland and pasture conditions.
ROLLING PLAINS: Cotton harvest was underway in most of the district, especially acres sprayed with boll opener. Weather conditions were windy, dry and unseasonably warm. Wheat planting was pretty well finished, but moisture was needed. Wheat was doing well except where armyworms impacted fields. Grass had gone dormant after the freeze a few weeks ago. Cattle were on supplemental feed and hay. Stocker calves started to move into wheat pasture that had some growth.
COASTAL BEND: Minimal rain was reported. Soil conditions were becoming dry in areas. Some producers started fertilizing fields. Fieldwork, including destroying cotton stalks, continued. Ryegrass and other winter forages were planted in fields with moisture. The pecan harvest continued. Armyworms were reported in some pastures and hay fields. Cattle were in good condition, and producers were sending calves to market.
EAST: Rainfall improved drought conditions across the area but did not alleviate burn bans. Temperatures continued to be warmer than normal throughout the district despite Angelina, Henderson, Houston and Marion counties experiencing their first frost of the season. The warm weather stunted winter pasture growth in Upshur County, while frost caused summer forages to become dormant in Henderson and Marion counties. Wood County producers were still holding off on planting winter pastures, and feed stores reported winter pasture seed sales were down. Jasper County reported planting for fall was going well with very good conditions. Most pasture and rangeland conditions for the district were fair, but those in Cherokee, Harrison and Henderson counties were poor. Those in Shelby County were very poor. Subsoil conditions varied slightly between adequate and poor with Shelby County as the exception with very short conditions. Topsoil conditions were mostly short. Newton County had very short conditions, and Angelina, Houston and Tyler counties reported adequate conditions. Gregg County cattle prices held steady, while Houston County cattle prices trended upwards with large numbers reported at the sale barns. Livestock across the district were all described as in good condition. Producers continued to feed hay and other protein sources in Cherokee, Greggand Wood counties. Wild pig damage was on the rise with heavy damages reported in Gregg, Henderson and Upshur counties.
SOUTH PLAINS: Subsoil and topsoil moisture levels continued to dry out due to warmer temperatures and high winds. Harvest continued. Winter wheat continued to mature. Pastures and rangelands remained in fair to good condition. Wheat conditions were above average. Cattle were in good condition as well.
PANHANDLE: Conditions were dry and windy for most of the district. Temperatures were all over the board. The reporting period started with the first freeze and ended with near-record-breaking highs in the middle 80s for some areas. Cotton harvest was underway with cotton yields around 1-1.5 bales per acre for dryland and 2-3 bales per acre for irrigated fields. The light-to-heavy freeze was expected to shut down cotton progress, so harvest aids were used. Most cotton was ready to harvest but some losses were expected. Cattle body scores were still holding along with pasture conditions, but supplemental nutrition was beginning and expected to be required in coming weeks. Wheat planting was complete. Some stocker cattle were being placed on wheat pastures. Sorghum harvest was in full swing. Sorghum yields were above average with dryland acres ranging from 2,500-3,000 pounds per acre and irrigated fields averaging 4,500 pounds per acre. Pasture grass growth slowed since the first killing frost and most grasses reached dormancy for winter.
NORTH: Temperatures were unusually warm with record highs in the 90s. Some counties received a trace of rain, but not enough to make a difference. Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels ranged from mostly adequate to short, with some counties reporting very short. Cotton harvest continued, with about 90 percent harvested. Cotton yields were very good, with most fields averaging 2 bales per acre. Wheat farmers continued to plant even though soil conditions were very dry. It was estimated that 60-70 percent of the crop was planted. Soybean harvest was near completion. Livestock were doing well but were being watched for stress with the 35-degree temperature change in a day. Pastures with standing forage were being utilized as stockpiled pastures in some counties. The cattle market was up again during the reporting period. Wild pigs were active in some counties.
FAR WEST: Temperature highs were in the upper 80s with lows in the 40s. Rain reports of 0.1-0.5 of an inch. Cotton harvest continued to make very good progress. The majority of dryland cotton was harvested as well as most fields near producers’ homes. Harvest was slowing down as they entered better irrigated cotton and fields, which require more time to harvest. Grades improved in the irrigated crop. A few pecans were starting to fall. There were some sprouting issues. The last cut of alfalfa was either being cut or harvested. Pawnee pecans were harvested, and western variety pecans should be harvested after the frost. The final harvest of chilies occurred. Producers continued to feed wildlife and livestock.
WEST CENTRAL: Weather was seasonable with warm days and cool nights. Some areas experienced an early light freeze and frost. Soil moisture conditions continued to decline with warm, windy conditions. All areas needed rainfall for good growing conditions to continue. Stock tank levels continued to decline. Burn bans were reinstated. Cotton harvest was in full swing with good results reported. Yields were better than expected. Wheat and oat crops were struggling to grow due to lack of moisture and armyworm damage. Many producers were forced to replant. Armyworm problems began to decrease a little due to cool conditions and frost. Rangeland and pastures were in good condition going into fall. Forage and grass growth slowed some due to frost and freeze. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Fall cattle work was underway. Pecan harvest was well underway and in full gear.
SOUTHEAST: Rainfall was reported in a few counties, with up to 2.5 inches in some areas. The rain should help cool-season forages. Crops and pastures continued to show signs of stress from flooding in September but were slowly improving. Temperatures were slightly above average to well-above average. Hot temperatures dried some fields quickly. Soil moisture levels ranged widely from adequate to very short with adequate being most common. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely — from excellent to very poor — with fair ratings being most common.
SOUTHWEST: No rain was reported for most counties. The little frost and mist received was not enough precipitation to help. Pasture and rangeland conditions declined due to a lack of rain. Livestock conditions remained fair.
SOUTH: Temperatures were in the 80s during the day and 60s at night. Moisture conditions continued to be short in most of the district. Pasture conditions were good to fair but continued to deteriorate due to dry weather. In Jim Wells County, some much-needed rain was received near Ben Bolt. Landowners in the area reported 1-5 inches of rainfall in one afternoon. Pasture and rangeland conditions should improve in the area that received rain. Peanut harvest was underway. Pecan harvest was active as well. Wheat planting continued after a pause due to armyworms. Wheat that had emerged was being irrigated. Some producers replanted oats and wheat destroyed by armyworms. Live Oak County reported cold, dry weather conditions and a freeze in low-lying areas. Farmers were preparing soil for next season. Supplemental feeding of livestock was reported in some areas. Cotton gins were still operating at full capacity. Cabbage harvest was about 10 days away in some areas. Spinach planting was completed. Some fresh-market baby leaf spinach was expected to be harvested soon. Body condition scores on cattle remained good in some areas. Beef cattle were showing some stress in other areas, especially cull cows. Landowners vacated pastures for the upcoming white-tailed deer hunting season. Feeder calf prices remained steady while cull cow prices were on a downward trend. Producers harvested grass seed and baled hay on improved pastures. In Hidalgo County, sugarcane and citrus harvests continued. Land preparation began in row crop fields.