What is in this article?:
• Drought is damaging crop prospects, cattle operations.
• Early rainfall permitted germination of some crops.
• Cool, dry weather hampering cotton.
Irrigation is limited
Irrigation is limited. “We have about 15,000 acres under irrigation in the county. That’s out of 230,000 acres, based on FSA numbers, planted last year,” McCool said.
Danny Wendland raises cattle, cotton and grain sorghum outside Sinton, the San Patricio county seat. “It’s mostly dry through here,” he says. “For cotton, it’s horribly dry. I replanted all my cotton once and some of it twice.”
Some of the replanted acreage is up. “It all depends on the block, and I can’t tell the difference in conditions between them. It’s the same land, the same management and planted at the same time.” They also received about the same amount of moisture. “But some of the blocks will not come up, but the block across the ditch may have emerged.”
He says some minor difference in soil, moisture retention or another factor is affecting the crops.
“Cotton has not had much of a chance this year,” Wendland says.
“We had a week of smoke blowing in from Mexico on top of not getting any sunshine. We also had 40 mile-per-hour winds that sucked out any moisture.
“Growth rate on sorghum is about 60 percent to 70 percent of normal. It’s had a little moisture, but not enough to sustain it. Anything that damages sorghum within the first 90 to 100 days of growth will affect yield, as much as 10 percent per week until it gets to nothing. Right now, about 50 percent of my sorghum is shutting down.”
He says the other half is “okay” for now. It’s not uniform. “It’s wavy across the field; some plants are about 18 inches high, others are about a foot and there are a lot of skips.”
Cool temperatures have also hindered cotton progress. “With cold weather, cotton stops,” he says, “and it doesn’t have the energy to start back.”
McCool says he’s seen a lot of cotton that germinated but died in the soil before emerging because it had too little moisture to support it.
Crops have had “nothing but stress this spring,” Wendland says. “Some sorghum got hailed on but has put out new leaves.”
Average grain crop possible
He says if rainfall reverts back to something closer to normal he can make a partial crop. “But without rain, we will make no crop here whatsoever. Grain sorghum will shut down.”
He says longer-season hybrids are the most vulnerable. “Within the next 30 days they’ll start putting out flag leaves and shoot out the head. Then it will shut down. Shorter-season hybrids may do a little better.”