Concern, anxiety, worry, care, desperation.
Whatever you want to call it, farmers and ranchers have much more of it than moisture as the drought continues in much of Texas, according to reports from Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
Agricultural producers' drought-related concerns range from worry there won't be enough moisture to plant spring crops, anxiety over the increasing risk of wildfires to desperation about the continuance of their livelihood, say AgriLife Extension agents.
On March 10 - 11, a band of scattered showers from San Antonio to Dallas helped some. But the areas hardest hit by the drought will need much more rain to recover, AgriLife Extension personnel say.
"Polk County is and has been under a burn ban for some time," says Mark Currie, AgriLife Extension agent for Polk County, north of Houston. "There is much concern among producers regarding the lack of moisture and the future prospects for moisture this spring."
"High winds are removing soil moisture quick," says Clint Perkins, AgriLife Extension agent for Wood County, south of Sulphur Springs.
"Drought conditions are growing more severe by the day," says Jeff Wyatt, AgriLife Extension agent for Dawson County, south of Lubbock. "High winds have added to the worsening situation."
"Another dry week here. Still not much happening with regards to planting or working ground," says Todd Beyers, AgriLife Extension agent for Lamb County, southwest of Amarillo. "Some plows have been out, but very little. We are getting to the point we are desperate for rain."
"The dry conditions continue to prevail in the county," said Wes Utley, AgriLife Extension agent for Haskell County, north of Abilene. "Producers are concerned about wheat production and growth. The county has only received 0.5 inches of moisture since mid-October."
The following were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters this week:
CENTRAL: Dry conditions prevailed. Rain and runoff was needed to replenish soil moisture and fill stock ponds. Trees were drought-stressed and dying. Windy conditions continued to raise the danger of wildfire in all counties.
COASTAL BEND: The drought continued, and high winds enhanced the drying out of soil and pastures. Few crops were planted due to no soil moisture.
EAST: Rain was severely needed in all counties. Burn bans were in effect in most counties. Nacogdoches and Newton counties reported several wildfires. Fruit trees, shrubs and other spring plants were starting to bloom, despite the dry soil condition.
FAR WEST: Extremely dry conditions persisted throughout the region. Burn bans remained in effect in many counties. Many fruit trees were trying to bloom while the earlier-leafing deciduous trees have leafed out. Fall-planted onions came out of dormancy and regrowth was good. Alfalfa broke dormancy also. Land for cotton and peppers was prepared with a few acres already pre-irrigated. Pecan orchards were cleaned and pruned. Some orchards were given their first irrigation.
PANHANDLE: The region remained dry, with burn bans and red-flag warnings (high-danger of fires) reported. Temperatures and wind speeds were above normal.
ROLLING PLAINS: Soil moisture and stock water supplies remained critically low. Conditions remained extremely dry. The region must receive rain soon for many producer operations to survive.
SOUTH: The entire region continued to experience drought conditions: the temperature ranged from warm to hot, with high winds, no rain and extremely short soil moisture. There was an increase in field activity preparations for planting in the northern parts of the region. Most of the potato crop emerged. The harvesting of cabbage, lettuce and spinach was ongoing. In the western parts of the region, producers applied pre-planting irrigation water to prospective corn, cotton, onion and cabbage fields. The harvesting of both processing and fresh-market varieties of spinach was expected to finish soon. Farm service agencies in the western part of the region asked county judges to formally request their counties be declared as disaster counties for the 2009 production year.
SOUTH PLAINS: The region experienced much warmer than normal temperatures. Many trees were in full bloom or were budding. Soil moisture was very short to short.
SOUTHEAST: No precipitation this week, and high winds promoted moisture evaporation in soils that were already deficient. Brazoria County has only received 0.2 inch to 1 inch total rain for 2009.
SOUTHWEST: The region remained completely dry. The five-month period from September through Feb. 28, was the driest period on record with only 1.16 inches of total rain, compared to a long-term average close to 10.5 inches. High, dry winds created dust storms and increased the incidence of roadside and field wildfires. Many stock tanks were dry. The cabbage harvest continued. Potatoes, spring onions and cabbage were all making good progress under heavy irrigation.
WEST CENTRAL: Extreme dry, windy conditions continued. Wildfires threatened many areas. Burn bans remained in effect throughout the region. No field work was being done due to lack of moisture.