Source: AgriLife Today
Whether table grapes or grapes for winemaking, growers throughout the state are seeing or expecting good harvests in spite of early season weather concerns, said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and industry experts.
“Right now it’s looking like there will be good to better-than-average crops of grapes in most of the state, both in yield and quality,” said Bill Blackmon, board member at large for the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association and co-owner of William Chris Vineyards in Hye.
“From what I’ve seen, the crops in the High Plains and Hill Country are coming along well. We also have a vineyard in Tyler, and if the crop there is any indication, grape crops in East Texas are also looking pretty good.”
Ironically, although excessive early season rains added disease pressure to many Hill Country vineyards, Blackmon said he is hoping for additional rain to irrigate his vineyard now that another dry, hot summer has set in.
“Early in the season, some Hill Country producers didn’t fare as well due to a freeze that occurred the Monday after Easter,” said Jim Kamas, AgriLife Extension fruit specialist in Fredericksburg. “Producers west of U.S. Highway 281 fared better than those to the east, as many to the east lost a significant portion of their crop with a few losing their entire crop due to the freeze.”
Kamas also noted Hill Country producers had to be diligent in disease treatment due to excess moisture from spring rains.
“Producers who applied fungicide at the appropriate time were able to stave off most diseases affecting grape crops, such as anthracnose, powdery mildew, downy mildew and black rot,” he said. “Those producers who treated will probably see good clusters and high-quality fruit along with decent yields. However, producers who did not treat in time will likely see lower yields and lesser fruit quality.”
Fran Pontasch, AgriLife Extension viticulture program specialist for the Gulf Coast, said harvesting of both blanc du bois white grapes and black Spanish grapes has begun in that region.
“While the blanc du bois clusters are loose, the grapes are large and fruit quality seems decent,” Pontasch said. “In all, it looks like there will be moderate crop yields for this area. There won’t be a big crop, but it won’t be small either.”
However, she said, both grape quality and yield are better than producers expected earlier in the season.
“A lot of producers were worried about not having much of a harvest due to the rainfall and greatly increased disease pressure from all that moisture,” she said. “I have to say the producers generally did a great job of treating their crops to prevent fungal disease.”
Michael Cook, AgriLife Extension viticulture program specialist for the agency’s North Texas district, said in terms of viticulture he views the 55-county region as comprised of northwest, north central and northeast sub-region. He said the white grape harvest will soon begin with the red grape harvest to follow.
Cook said the northwest portion of the region has been drier this year, even with the early season precipitation, and producers are seeing good crop loads.
“Producers in this part of the district have been managing disease well and as a result are getting good results,” he said.
However, Cook noted, in the north central portion the early season weather was wetter, leaving producers to deal with some fungal pathogens, especially black rot.
“As a result, we’re seeing some cluster failure, so the crop there will be anything from fair to very good,” he said. “The growers who have been able to manage disease pressure and their canopies are doing very well.”
The overall crop performance of the eastern portion of the North Texas district could best be described as “spotty,” he said.
“Some producers are doing well in their disease management but there is much more disease pressure in this sub-region due to the abundance of rainfall during the early season coupled with high disease pressure last season,” he said. “We’ve had downy mildew incidents in that area, as well as copious amounts of black rot.”
He said this sub-region will likely see fair to good crops overall — in spite of the fact some producers lost their entire crop due to fungal disease earlier in the season.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
ROLLING PLAINS: Scattered rainfall occurred. For those lucky enough to be under one of the small thunderstorms, the rainfall was beneficial to cropland and rangeland. Some areas reported receiving up to 3 inches of rainfall, while other areas received nothing. Some small storms brought lightning, which caused a few small wildfires. Although pastures and rangeland were green, enough dead vegetation existed underneath to burn. Cotton acres looked very good. Although plants were small and just getting started, there was sufficient subsoil moisture to supply a growing crop. Weed control was the primary issue for most producers. Pastures and rangeland were also in very good condition and were offering more than enough grazing. Livestock were in good condition. Hay harvest continued to be good.
NORTH: A dry, hot week left topsoil moisture ranging from adequate to short. The topsoil moisture continued to decline due to the amount of heat experienced. Cracks were beginning to form in the ground. Daytime temperatures were in the mid to high 90s. The area received only a quarter to three-quarters of an inch of rain. Corn, soybeans and sorghum were all reported as doing well. Sweet potato growers reported plants were showing heat stress and really need a good rain. Hay harvest was underway and quality was much better this year compared to last year. Livestock were in good condition, and spring-born calves looked very nice. Feral hog activity remained high.
FAR WEST: The region saw scattered storms that dropped less than a quarter of an inch in some areas and up to 3 inches of rain, which caused some flooding, in others. Some areas reported triple-digit temperatures, up to 110 degrees in Presidio County. Most producers had good moisture and were not irrigating unless they were injecting fertilizer. Crops including cotton, corn, sorghum, pecans and alfalfa were making great progress. Watermelons were harvested just in time for the July 4 holiday. Cotton was showing some growth. Pecan trees were still in need of much water. Pastures were greening up where the rain fell and were starting to dry out where it didn’t. Overall, pasture and range conditions were good with topsoil and subsoil moisture adequate.
EAST: Dry weather conditions continued around the region. Pasture and range conditions were good to excellent. Forages were getting extremely dry with hot winds not helping. Rain was needed in most counties. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were mostly adequate with only Wood County reporting conditions as short. Two counties, Harrison and Smith, continued to report surplus conditions. Hot weather created some showers for some counties. Forage grasses continued to make excellent growth in Gregg County. Hay was being cut and baled with some producers making their first cutting of hay in Smith County. Hay production in Wood County was winding down. Fruits and vegetables were being harvested. Gardens were waning. Weed control was taking place in farm ponds and some fields to control unwanted vegetation. Insect and disease issues on some plants were being reported. The cattle market increased some in Houston County. Livestock remained in mostly good condition. Producers continued to sell market-ready calves and cull cows. Feral hog damage was reported in Upshur and Wood counties.
SOUTH PLAINS: Only trace amounts of rain fell across the region. Temperatures in the 100’s with no rainfall were expected to make crops extremely hot. Rainfall was needed. Subsoil moisture was still good in most fields, but topsoil moisture had dried out. Irrigation was widespread where available. Cotton was squaring in many fields, and corn was tasseling. Weed control was a priority in cotton. Peanuts were doing well with most fields well into bloom and setting pegs. Grains ranged from just planted to tasseling corn. Limited whorl feeding by larvae pest was noted in most area fields. Aphid sightings were limited in general – greenbugs, yellow sugarcane aphids and corn leaf aphids. No sugarcane aphids had been found to date. Beneficial insects and spiders were present in most fields with numbers dependent on limited food source. Only occasional small colonies of mites were seen. Pasture, rangeland and winter wheat were in fair to good condition. Cattle were in good condition.
PANHANDLE: Hot, windy and above-average temperatures were seen over the southern portion of the region, while some counties in the northern part of the region received anywhere from 2-5 inches of rain. Where it rained, hay swathing was delayed. Soil moisture varied in ratings from adequate to surplus with most reporting adequate to short. Crops were wilting and suffering heat stress in some southern counties. Limited acreage was lost due to excessive wind combined with sand, although some that suffered wind damage should pull through. The area corn crop was in good condition but behind in growth stages compared to seasons past. Cotton had few insect problems. Wheat harvest was almost complete; yields overall were better than expected with the irrigated crop averaging 50-80 bushels per acre. Sunflowers were still being planted. Grain sorghum acreage was below last year due to producer fear of the sugarcane aphid and the market options being down. In the northern part of the region, rains were good for the corn, cotton and sorghum. Corn took off with the heat and humid conditions, growing fast. Cattle were in good shape, as were pastures that received moisture.
COASTAL BEND: Hot, humid and very dry conditions prevailed. A few scattered showers in some areas of less than a half inch and winds up to 30 mph were reported. Sorghum harvest picked up momentum as more fields matured. Harvest aids were applied to a good number of acres, so more acreage will be ready late this week or early next week. Early planted corn neared maturity and some was being harvested. Soybeans and cotton continued to be hit or miss with some high yield potential in both crops, while other fields suffered. Rice started to head out. Insect pressures decreased and were being monitored. Range and pasture conditions were drying out but were still good. Pasture herbicide applications continued as wind speed allowed. A record hay crop was being harvested, although spotty showers in some areas limited cutting. Livestock were doing well, and cattle continued to thrive.
SOUTHWEST: Some areas had dry conditions that continued through the week, and these areas were in need of moisture for grazing and additional hay cutting. Milo was ready to harvest early. Overall, pastures looked good, and hay continued to be made. Livestock condition remained good.
SOUTHEAST: Moisture conditions varied across the region, with some counties suffering under hot and dry conditions, while others were just drying out from flooding last month. Where floods occurred, fields and pastures were starting to dry. Some hay was finally cut and baled. Rice progress was coming along; some early harvested rice was expected. Row crop producers were preparing for grain sorghum harvest. However, in Harris County there was no longer any notable cotton, rice, sorghum, soybean or peanut production. In other counties, cotton and soybeans needed rain. Hot and dry conditions were stressing plants and animals. High humidity was also a factor. Livestock appeared to be healthy with adequate amounts of pasture grass for grazing. Soil-moisture levels throughout the region ranged widely from adequate to surplus, with most ratings in the adequate range. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely too, from excellent to good, with good ratings being the most common.
CENTRAL: Temperatures were 90-plus and expected to reach triple digits by the weekend. Producers were still cleaning up from recent flooding. Livestock were doing good with no supplemental feeding needed. Hay production was finishing up its first cutting; yields were good. Wheat harvest was almost complete with average or below average quality results. Corn was drying down, and milo was coloring. Tanks were full, and forage was still plentiful. Pest pressure was low. Grain sorghum continued to look good with limited pressure from sugarcane aphids. Some plants were beginning to show signs of stress. Counties reported soil moisture and overall range and pasture conditions were good, as were overall crop and livestock conditions.
WEST CENTRAL: Days were hot and drier. Temperatures were extremely high. Soil moisture was drying out. Burn bans were expected to be reinstated. Field activities continued to increase as farmers finished up spraying cotton. Producers were having problems keeping up with the weeds. Sugarcane aphids were reported. Wheat and oat harvests were mostly complete. Some wheat and oats were destroyed from excessive rains that caused wheat to sprout and fall over. Most cotton had emerged and was getting plenty of heat units as the summer continued to heat up. Grain sorghum and corn were in excellent condition. Cutting and baling hay continued, and a good hay crop harvest was underway. First cuttings of haygrazer were in and yields were very good. Range and pastures were in mostly excellent condition. Most pastures were holding up pretty well through the heat. Some signs of heat stress had been noted in isolated areas. Ranges were being heavily grazed by livestock. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Cattle prices were down.
SOUTH: Temperatures continued to soar above 100 degrees throughout the region, drying range, pastures and soil moisture. In the northern part, some light, scattered showers fell. Corn was in the denting stage and drying out. Sorghum continued turning color and maturing. Late-planted cotton was squaring, with the majority of the crop setting bolls and early planted cotton bolls were opening. Peanut planting was completed with some of the crop already emerged; and irrigation continued in all crops throughout the area. In the eastern portion of the region, grain harvesting was in full swing with early yield reports at 5,000 pounds an acre or better. A few farms reported hog damage in some fields, thus lowering yields. Cotton was progressing well. Topsoil moisture started to diminish in some areas. In the western part of the region, corn and sorghum reached maturity early, and producers were able to save on irrigation costs. However, cotton producers were busy applying irrigation water to their crop, which was in the critical boll-development stage. Harvest on some early planted sorghum had started or would soon. Some hay baling took place. Pasture and range conditions remained in good shape across much of the region but were starting to stress due to extremely hot temperatures and little rain. Although the high temperatures were scorching range and pastures, and soil moisture levels were drying, forage quantity remained good in most areas. Cattle body condition scores remained in good condition as well. The local beef cattle market reported significantly lower prices on feeder cattle.