At mid-March, when it was technically "winter" and still a week ahead of spring, temperatures soared into the 90s in Texas and Oklahoma, indicative of skipping springtime all together and making a "Texas two-step" winter-to-summer transition.
In West Central Texas, the wheat crop was barely hanging on. The Abilene region, which saw a huge rainfall deficit in the 2011 historic drought and a deficit again in 2012, fell far below average rainfall during the first part of 2013 as well.
While the High Plains-Panhandle region caught some heavy snow during the first quarter of this year, the Rolling Plains did not, and most of the rest of the state remained dry except for a few areas that caught isolated showers. Some in East Texas, that had received scattered rainfall, top dressed grain fields with fertilizer in hopes of a green-up.
Where it was available, producers attempted to graze stocker cattle on wheat pasture for forage. But the grazing was extremely limited in most places.
Cotton acreage is expected to be down 25% this year from last in Texas—although higher prices for cotton could change that. But that would still mean about 5 million acres of cotton in the state.
Since the original projection at the beginning of the year, prices have improved some for cotton.
"Prices have gone up a little for cotton and come down a little for grain crops, so my guess is that the National Cotton Council (acreage) survey hopefully is the worst-case scenario," says Gaylon Morgan, Texas AgriLife Extension state cotton specialist, College Station.
Steve Verett of Plains Cotton Growers, Lubbock, says precipitation improved over some parts of the South Plains during March, and that could mean there will not be as large a decrease in cotton acreage as the early survey indicated.