Rusty Strickland, a peanut and cotton farmer from Quail, Texas, says conditions remain dry.

“The last (appreciable) rain we had was Nov. 12. We got four-tenths about a month ago, but numerous days of 40 mile per hour wind have this country in sad shape. My irrigated crop is planted and up. We are running our pivots non-stop.” 

He’s planted mostly cotton, “with a couple of circles of peanuts. We need a rain and less wind to continue yielding like normal,” he said.

Todd Baughman, Texas Extension peanut specialist and agronomist at Vernon, Texas, says peanut acreage is down.

“Peanut acres were going to be off this year anyway,” he said. “Dry weather and cotton prices already had taken 35 percent to 40 percent of the acres prior to this continued drought.”

He said Rolling Plains cotton farmers are waiting to plant dryland acreage. “Most dryland acres have not been planted in the Rolling Plains with much of the areas’ last planting date June 20. We will likely start seeing quite a bit go in dry this week.”

He predicts that most intended acreage will be planted.

In south Texas, recent rainfall has improved prospects for cotton and grain sorghum.

Jimmy Dodson, Corpus Christi, Texas, cotton and sorghum producer, says the South Texas Coastal Bend area south of Victoria may be one of the bright spots in the state as crops begin to mature. To the north, conditions are much worse.

“Corn north of Victoria is about burned up,” he said.

“A small percentage, probably less than 10 percent, of cotton fields south of Victoria have failed because of no stand,” he said. “The prospects for the rest of the crop depend on whether fields got showers in late April and early May.”

The area had from 1.5 to 2 inches of rain during that period — in small showers. The area also had 5 inches of rain in January to provide early-season moisture.

Dodson said some of his cotton plants have long root systems that have pushed down to that deep moisture. As he talked to Southeast Farm Press on the phone, he described a cotton plant he was holding. “It’s about 24 inches long with 8 mature bolls and 3 immature ones,” he said. “If we don’t get rain soon, the immature ones will fall off.

“I just came out of a cotton field that could make 2.5 bales per acre, if it gets rain this week,” he said. “It needs that rain to hold fruit. But the roots are unbelievable.”

He retains some optimism for the 2011 crop.

“We can still make a normal crop if we get rain this week. If we get rain within two weeks, we can make a crop that’s just below normal. If we get no more rain, we’ll make a half or two-thirds of a crop.”

He said milo could make two-thirds to three-fourths of a crop with no more rain. He expects grain sorghum to average from 3,000 to 3,500 pounds per acre without additional rainfall.

Crops are maturing early because of unusually high heat units. “We’re at 33 percent more heat units than our 30-year average,” he said.

Not all of south Texas has fared as well. Dodson said parts of the Lower Rio Grande Valley have been hit hard by drought. “The Upper Coast is a wreck and the area around Uvalde and Winter Garden is a wreck.”