Some areas of Texas made some hay on a little rain with some sunshine, but others just never had a chance, says a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist.
"We've had a better year than last year, but that isn't saying a lot," says Dr. Larry Redmon, AgriLife Extension state forage specialist, College Station. "We had great winter rains and some in spring, but then the rains shut off for the most part.
"There are some areas that have had 8 to 10 inches this summer, but it is not widespread."
Dr. Travis Miller, associate department head and AgriLife Extension program leader in the Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences department, College Station, says the state overall continues to face drought, with notable exceptions along the Gulf Coast and parts of East North Texas.
"While showers along the coast and in North Texas eased drought conditions and greened up hay meadows, conditions are worsening over most of the southern and western parts of the state, where livestock producers are continuing to supplement cattle with hay and feed and are struggling to maintain water supplies," Miller reports.
Miller says that at this time, nearly 90% of the state ranges from abnormally dry to exceptional drought.
Redmon says some producers already have made one hay cutting and are ready to make another. These producers have taken care of their grass, applied fertilizer, and had timely rains, so they won't be buying hay, he notes.
"But just down the road, there may be producers who didn't get the timely rains and the grass simply hasn't had a chance to recover from last year," he says. "So it really depends on the management level of the property and whether it has received rain as to whether an individual made hay or has to buy it."
Looking around the state, Redmon says North Texas seems to get a rain "almost whenever it wants one." In Southeast Texas and the Houston and coast areas, good rains have fallen and producers are growing some hay. East Texas has had good rain in some spots and is in good shape.
But up in the High Plains, it has been a tough year, he adds. The same goes for Central Texas, West Texas, and South Texas where rainfall has been very spotty.
He expects some 18-wheelers will be trucking hay to Texas again this autumn, with some square bales of alfalfa coming from Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado, and some prairie hay from South Dakota or Nebraska.