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Pecan crops appear on track for slightly better than average year
UVALDE – Hit and miss rains and a bumper 2015 crop could mean a hit-or-miss 2016 for pecan producers around the state, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist, Uvalde, said the outlook for pecan producers in 2016 is fair to good.
“Some spots are in really good shape while others aren’t,” he said. “Theoretically, 2016 should be an above–average year but it won’t be for everyone.”
Stein said stresses from drought, disease or pests can contribute to reduced yields but much of the blame for light pecan nut loads is a heavy crop the prior year, especially if trees were not managed correctly.
“Some producers had big crops last year,” he said. “It’s just kind of the way it works that if trees make a big crop one year they don’t the next year.”
But conditions appear to be favorable for many producers, Stein said.
The widespread late-season rain event in early August arrived at a perfect time for producers, he said. Nut kernels are forming, and the rain provided nitrogen-infused moisture to feed that process. It also allowed irrigation pumps to sit idle in many areas, which saved producers money.
Stein said producers should be monitoring trees for pests and disease as most harvesting is done in mid-October.
Heavy spring rains contributed to scab infections in some areas, and Stein suspects the disease could re-emerge following the late-season rains. There has also been concern about black aphids as the pests cause leaf drop which can affect the nuts as they fill out.
Weevils are another pest that could negatively impact yields and quality, Stein said. Soft, moist soil allows the pests to emerge and damage nuts as they fill out.
The majority of the state’s pecans grow around Fort Stockton, El Paso, Brownwood and San Saba, where there is less disease pressure and temperatures begin to cool earlier than in other parts of the state, Stein said.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
CENTRAL: The district was cool and wet. Pastures were green and growing. Bermuda grass pastures looked good. The second corn crop and irrigated cotton looked very good. Cotton was harvested and tested for quality with some samples coming back with better than expected results. Fall small-grain planting looked like it would be good. Hay producers were getting another cutting. Livestock remained in good condition. Overall soil moisture and rangeland and pasture conditions were 100 percent good. Crops were in fair condition overall.
ROLLING PLAINS: Heavy rains fell across parts of the district. Amounts received ranged from 1-10 inches, which resulted in some runoff. Range and pastures were in good condition. Ground was tilled up and prepared for wheat and cool season forages. Native range and improved forage looked the best it has this summer and many producers were rethinking their cattle grazing and marketing strategies through the fall. Livestock was in good condition.
COASTAL BEND: Rainfall continued with a few hot, dry days in between, which improved chances for cotton harvest to resume in some areas. Cotton quality was a concern as seed and lint quality declined due to wet conditions. Some sprouted cotton has resulted in diminished grade reductions. Yields varied from complete losses from early flooding to excellent in upland fields. Fall armyworms were reported in some areas. Range and pasture conditions were excellent, which will add to already abundant supplies of hay. Cattle remained in great condition.
EAST: Rains were scattered over the district with reports ranging from 1-6 inches. Houston County reported rain fell every day for the last 10 days with more rain predicted. Rains filled ponds. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were mostly adequate with only a few reporting conditions as surplus. Trees, especially oaks, were showing the effects of the dry conditions earlier in the year. Pasture and range conditions were fair to excellent. Some pastures and hay meadows improved drastically. Many producers were expecting a late-season hay crop, but hay quality was expected to be low because of all the rain. Hay cutting was half that of last year in Jasper County. With the rains and flush regrowth, counties were seeing armyworm infestations. Damage from armyworms was being controlled through cutting hay or spraying. Fall garden preparation was underway. Local farmers markets have slowed or stopped with the end of the season. Livestock were doing fair to good. Cattle prices were a little lower in Gregg County. Fly counts were rising.
SOUTH PLAINS: Areas in the district received rain from 0.25-4 inches where measurements were taken. Conditions were cooler and cloudy. Rains were great for irrigated fields, but might be too late on dryland fields. The rainfall should help peanut fields, but corn and pastures were most affected by lack of moisture. Cotton was mostly all cutout with an occasional bloom in the top node. Some acres showed four nodes above white flower and some fields showed a few cracked bolls. Insect pests in cotton mainly consisted of sub-threshold bollworm infestations in conventional cotton and occasional plant bugs. Cattle were in good condition. Grains crops continued to mature. Sugarcane aphids have finally made their way to some fields in northern portions of the district but barely at economic threshold levels. Some corn was cut for silage, and farmers were planting some wheat.
PANHANDLE: Temperatures cooled with rains, which ranged from a trace to 2.5 inches. Hail was reported in some areas. Rain and hail caused pockets of damage in Collingsworth County. Corn fields were trying to finish up for the year with some late plantings just now tasseling. Yields from corn fields were projected to be 10-30 percent below normal according to many producers. Projected grain sorghum yields were good but many producers were fighting sugarcane aphids. Many producers applied insecticide for sugarcane aphids and hoped it would be the only application for the season. Silage harvests were in full swing before the rain. Yields were 10- 20 percent below normal. Cattle remained in good condition. Producers prepared wheat ground for fall planting. Ranges and pastures were mostly good to fair.
NORTH: Topsoil moisture was mostly adequate throughout the district. Temperatures were mild with scattered showers. Rains helped green up pastures. Some ranchers were preparing fields for planting winter annual pastures. Rains halted corn and grain sorghum harvests. The corn harvest was almost finished, but grain sorghum was at the midway point. Some soybean fields started to drop leaves, but most fields will not be ready for harvest until September or early October. Wet weather was keeping producers out of hay pastures. The calf market was down but livestock were in generally good condition. Fly and mosquito numbers were up. Wild hogs caused damage. Reports of armyworms were heavy. There were a few reports of fish kills due to oxygen depletion.
FAR WEST: Temperatures stayed in the high 80s and low 90s. Conditions were overcast with rain showers covering most of the district. Rainfall ranged from 0.5-4 inches, which caused flash flooding in some areas, damaging croplands and ditches. Rains improved range conditions. Dryland cotton bolls were opening quickly but producers thought the rain might slow the process. Supplemental feeding of livestock and wildlife continued in some areas. Quail and dove populations increased.
WEST CENTRAL: Scattered showers brought cooler temperatures in most areas. Burn bans were lifted in many areas. Field preparations for fall planting was underway. Soil moisture levels were excellent, putting small–grain producers in prime condition for fall planting. Hay cutting and baling continued. Hay producers were hoping to get a third cutting before conditions changed. Cotton crops were improving and were in mostly good condition. Corn and sorghum harvests were nearing completion. Ranges and pastures continued to improve. Forages and grasses responded to good moisture and were greening up. The outlook for fall forage looked good. Stock tanks were full. Livestock continued to do very well and remained in fair to good condition. Cattle prices were going up. Preparation for dove hunting season was underway.
SOUTHEAST: Most counties reported rainfall and wet conditions. Very little rice was harvested due to the rain. Cotton was sprouting in the boll but should be salvageable with dry weather. Livestock were in good condition. Forage producers were dealing with armyworms. The forage grass harvest was lower this year due to extended wet conditions early in the season, followed by dry conditions and then extremely wet conditions once again. Many areas dried enough to allow for some field activity. Soil moisture levels ranged widely from adequate to surplus, with most ratings in the adequate range.
SOUTHWEST: Soil moisture levels were high following 0.25-12 inches of rain across the district. Some farmers were unable to harvest corn, and some cotton has sprouted. Hay and row crop harvests were delayed by wet field conditions. Rains improved rangeland and pasture conditions. Ponds were in good conditions. Fly populations were on the rise. Livestock conditions were good and expected to improve as fall months begin. Weaning of sheep and goats continued.
SOUTH: Good rainfall events occurred throughout most of the district with measurements ranging from zero to a few inches. Rains improved soil moisture, ranges and pastures but hampered some field activities. Pastures were green and crops looked good. Some pastures improved dramatically due to rain. The cotton crop was close to harvest or underway in some areas. Hot temperatures and high winds were quickly drying soil out in some areas. There were some reports of damages to cotton fields from the storm, including cotton on the ground and sprouting. Sesame crops were doing well, and tillage work was done on fields to prepare for winter oats. In Frio County, temperatures were warm and no rainfall was reported. Peanut crops continued to develop and some weed control took place. Beef cattle condition scores remained good. The number of cattle at local sales barns decreased dramatically. Forage quantity should be good for most pastures going into the winter months. While hot temperatures and high winds dried things out, morning dew was reported on ranges and pastures. Spinach planting was expected to begin in late September. Pecan producers reported nut development was continuing to make good progress with low insect pressure. Fall vegetable pre-watering and planting activities also took place. Fall corn and soybean fields were being planted. Soil moisture conditions around the district ranged from very short to adequate.