Crop and Weather Report

By Adam Russell


COLLEGE STATION – Dry conditions around the state could worsen over the next few months as a warmer, drier winter is expected, said the state climatologist.


Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon said cooler waters in the tropical Pacific are building conditions for La Niña weather conditions to emerge by late November or December. La Niña conditions typically mean rain storms are pushed north by the jet stream.


Much of the state received average to above-average rainfall earlier in the year, but rainfall has been in short supply for the past month outside of areas drenched by Hurricane Harvey.


East Texas has experienced the second wettest year on record so far with an average of almost 44.5 inches, he said. But lately, there has been very little rain for the northern areas of the region.


Nielsen-Gammon said 30-plus inches of rainfall in the southern portion of the East Texas region skewed totals because much of the northern part of the region did not receive measurable rainfall from that storm system or since.


“Most of the state did not receive much rain over the past month,” he said. “The only other areas that received above normal rainfall were parts of the Trans Pecos region and northwestern portions of the Panhandle. But the northeast, southwest and west central portions of the state have all been very dry. Those areas received less than 25 percent of their normal rainfall for the last 30 days.”


Nielsen-Gammon said average to above-average rainfall during the early summer months meant good conditions for crops, grasses and for replenishing stock tanks, but that dry conditions have turned plant growth into potential fuel for wildfires.


“Wildfires can be an issue when you have wet weather followed by a substantial dry period with high temperatures,” he said. “Warm-season grasses and brush did well with moisture but now arid conditions are turning that growth into potential fuel. That’s the worst possible scenario.”


Short-term forecasts for the western half of the state are calling for possible wet conditions while the eastern half was expected to remain fairly dry, he said.


Long-term forecasts of La Niña are not certain, Nielsen-Gammon said, but are probable given the conditions in the tropical Pacific.


“Hopefully as we transition into winter we’ll see some storms develop, but that’s just a hope at this point,” he said.


AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:


CENTRAL: Conditions were very dry. Numerous fields were ready for small grain planting but needed moisture. All dryland pastures and meadows were brown and deteriorating. Some brush control was completed. Producers were still cutting hay. Corn harvest was complete. Cotton harvest was going very well. Livestock were in good condition but supplemental feed for cattle on rangelands may be necessary. Most counties reported average soil moisture and overall rangelands and pastures. Nearly all counties reported good crop conditions.

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