Texas pastures, rangelands experience weedy spring
COLLEGE STATION – Forage-producing areas of the state appear to be experiencing a bumper crop of weeds.
Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service forage specialist, Overton, said hay producers across the state continue to report excess weeds.
Corriher-Olson said weed issues, especially in forage-producing areas like East, Central and Southeast Texas, started late last year as drought reduced hay production. Drought was followed by untimely rain that prevented planting cool-season forages such as ryegrass, winter wheat, oats, rye and triticale.
Lack of growth and overgrazing summer pastures opened the canopy for seeds to receive sunshine and germinate. The lack of cool-season plantings reduced competition for sunlight, moisture and nutrients, which allowed weeds like Texas groundsel, identified by their small yellow flowers, and others to flourish.
“It was a combination of all those events and conditions that allowed weeds to fill the void,” she said.
Corriher-Olson said weeds like Texas groundsel are already blooming, which means they are at the end of their life cycle. She said mowing them is best though producers should prepare to treat pastures with herbicides next February or March when weeds begin growing again.
Producers should always refer to herbicide product labels when treating pastures, Corriher-Olson said.
“Most people are just now reacting to what they are seeing in their pastures,” she said. “It’s understood that mowing will spread weed seeds, but it’s necessary to open the canopy for Bermuda grass and Bahiagrass. They just need to remember the issue and be prepared to manage it next season.”
Mowing will allow summer grasses to grow, she said. Summer grasses like Bermuda grass are emerging, but nighttime temperatures have not been in the 60s consistently in more northern locations, which is necessary for growth.
Planting cool-season grasses in the fall will also help mitigate reemergence of weeds next season, she said.
“Everyone thinks the weed problems were worse this year than in the past, but I think the pasture conditions and weather and other factors made them appear to be worse,” she said. “It’s certainly a lesson in management of pastures.
“There’s not much we can do about weather, but proper management of pastures throughout the year is critical to ensure weeds are not outcompeting our forage grasses for resources like moisture and soil nutrients.”
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
Conditions were mild and wet with widespread rain late in the reporting period. Producers reported 1.5-2 inches of rain. The rains hindered cotton planting. Pastures were in good condition, and ranchers were fertilizing and cutting some hay. Livestock were in good condition. Increased temperatures and sunlight following intermittent rain improved field and grazing conditions dramatically. Wheat was heading. Nearly all counties reported good soil moisture and overall crop, livestock, pasture and rangeland conditions.
Conditions improved the last few weeks after most of the district received beneficial rainfall. Areas recorded half an inch to 3 inches of rain. Pastures and rangelands improved dramatically. The winter wheat crop was in fair to good condition. Producers were expected to get into fields to begin preparing for the upcoming cotton crop following the moisture. Livestock were in good condition, and supplemental feeding slowed down.
Widespread rains provided needed moisture, and row crop conditions were expected to improve as a result. Some areas reported evaporation due to strong winds. Corn and sorghum were doing well. Rice and cotton planting continued. Small amounts of wheat were turning color and looked good. Pastures and hay fields were in good condition. Some fertilizer and herbicide applications were made on pastures and hay fields. The first hay cutting was expected to be good. Livestock were doing very well, and cattle prices were strong.
Miles of fencing were down due to tornadoes in Cherokee and Houston counties. Many homes and barns were destroyed. The national forest in Houston County was hit extremely hard. Other counties received heavy thunderstorms with high winds, heavy rains and hail. Some pastures in San Augustine County were inaccessible. Harrison County received between 7-10 inches of rain. Pasture and rangeland conditions were mostly fair to good, with only Anderson and Tyler counties reporting poor conditions. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were adequate except in Polk, Harrison, Marion and Tyler counties, where conditions were surplus. Pastures and grassland continued to show slow recovery from excessive rain. Bermuda grass was starting to green up. Night temperatures were still too cool for warm-season forages to actively grow. Cool-season forages were growing well. Some producers in Smith County were cutting pastures to wrap in plastic or make baleage. Hay prices remained high. Wild pig activity was up. Despite the removal of 362 wild pigs in Sabine County during a February-March abatement program, producers still reported widespread damages. Fly numbers were high. Livestock were doing fair to good. Cattle prices were low on hard-to-sell calves but higher on good quality calves in Houston County. Shelby County had solid cattle prices.
Recent moisture followed by sunshine helped pastures green dramatically. Producers should start planting cotton soon. Corn planting continued. Wheat and hay were cut. Field preparations continued, and soil moisture was generally good. The outlook was positive for planting. Cattle were in good shape.
Scattered showers provided beneficial moisture as producers prepared to plant. Some counties experienced evaporation due to high winds. A few producers started early corn plantings in various counties, but most were waiting. Wheat was close to flag leaf stage. Rangelands began to green, but supplementation continued for cattle.
Soil moisture was adequate for most counties with a few reporting a surplus. One to 5 inches of rain fell over several counties. Pastures were soggy, and fields were inaccessible in some areas. Wind and sunshine were drying those areas rapidly. Summer grasses were beginning to emerge. Wheat was doing well, and corn was emerging and looking good. Farmers planted milo before the rain. Livestock were in good condition. Calving season was over. Calves were growing and looked healthy.
Temperatures ranged from the low 90s to the low 50s. Precipitation ranged from trace amounts to 2 inches. High winds continued. Planting of Pima and upland cotton started. Pecan and alfalfa irrigation continued. Pheromone traps were set for pecan nut casebearer. Mesquite was in full bloom. Acacia brush was yet to emerge. Rangeland was providing cattle plenty to eat. Shipping of lambs was expected to begin soon. High temperatures were increasing soil temperatures and reducing moisture levels.
Rain fell across the district and improved soil moisture. Pastures and rangelands continued to look good with good grazing. Both wheat and oats continued to head out. Sorghum and corn were a little slow taking off due to cool soil and night temperatures. Fields were being prepared for cotton planting. Livestock looked good with cattle putting on weight. Cattle demand continued to be strong with stocker steers steady and stocker heifers and feeder steers and heifers and packer cows $3 higher per hundredweight. Pairs and bred cows were steady.
Livestock were in good condition. Crops were improving after recent rains. Planting of rice was delayed by rains. Additional rain was in the forecast. Rain improved pasture conditions. Rangeland and pasture ratings were excellent to poor with good being most common. Soil-moisture levels were adequate to surplus with adequate being most common.
Rangeland and pasture conditions continued to improve in areas that received rainfall two weeks ago. Some counties received 0.6-2.5 inches this reporting period. Corn and sorghum were benefiting from recent rains. Cotton planting wrapped up. Kidding and lambing continued. Livestock were in good condition.
Northern and eastern parts of the district reported mild weather conditions with short to adequate soil moisture levels. Western parts reported warm weather and short to adequate soil moisture. Southern parts of the district reported wet weather and short soil moisture. Frio County reported half an inch to 1 inch of rainfall. Cotton planting continued. Wheat was maturing and turning color. Oats were maturing nicely. Corn fields continued to develop and were in the 6-8 leaf stage. Potato fields were flowering. Pasture and rangeland conditions improved due to recent rains. Late-planted cabbage was performing well. Cotton ginning activities should conclude soon. No insect pressure on crops was reported. Zapata County reported rapidly deteriorating conditions. Hot temperatures and lack of rainfall were beginning to take a toll on crops and pastures. Producers were feeding hay, and some began hauling water. Hay producers in Jim Wells County were expected to begin their first harvest in a week or two. Duval County had plenty of moisture, but ranchers were almost done grazing oats and wheat due to temperatures. Deer breeders were providing supplemental feed. Star County reported good crop and forage progress due to growing conditions and good moisture levels.