COLLEGE STATION -- While the Rolling Plains and other parts of Texas experienced near-perfect conditions for the wheat harvest, other parts of the state became further parched, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

The North, Southeast, Panhandle and nearly all of East Texas remained dry, with dryland crops not growing or stressed due to lack of moisture.

Meanwhile, the National Drought Policy Commission extended its classification of "moderate drought" for about a dozen East Texas counties on May 25 to all of 27 and parts of eight others by June 1, according to Rich Tinker, climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's climate prediction center, Washington D.C.

"Moderate drought that was confined close to the Louisiana border the week before has expanded westward to include a larger area, including areas northwest of Houston," Tinker said. "And we introduced some severe drought over a large part of northern Louisiana but not yet extending into Texas."

What is the difference between "moderate drought" and "severe drought?" Tinker said the determination is somewhat subjective, but climatologists try to look at "drought on as many time scales as possible and looking at as many impacts as possible, but certainly emphasizing those impacts that seem more serious at any given time."

On the commission's Drought Portal website at http://www.drought.gov/, droughts are classified by number designations. D0 is "abnormally dry," D1 is a "moderate drought," D2 is a "severe" drought, D3 is an "extreme" drought and D4 is an "exceptional" drought, he said.

"The D0 area is generally something that is dry on the scale of a three in 10-year occurrence," Tinker said. "D1 is roughly a two-in-10-year occurrence. D2 roughly one in 10-year occurrence, a D3 is in the order of a one-in-20-year occurrence and a D4 is roughly in the order of a one-in-50-year occurrence."

The U.S. Drought Monitor map of Texas for June 1 can be found online at http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/pdfs/tx_dm.pdf.

The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters:

CENTRAL: The region received spotty showers, but more rain was needed as grass showed signs of stress. Corn, cotton and sorghum were also in desperate need of rain. It was predicted that hay crops would soon be in danger of building up high levels of nitrates. Pecan trees had a medium nut load but needed water to fill kernels. Cattle were in good condition, and producers stated they have recovered from the hard winter. Fly pressure on cattle was high. Many producers were weaning heavier/older calves.

EAST: Parts of the region received as much as 3 inches of rain while others saw none at all. Some hay was harvested but yields were low. A few producers began to supplementally feed livestock due to pastures being grazed short. The blueberry and blackberry harvest was under way. Harvested vegetables showed a drop in quality because of the extremely dry conditions. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Flies on cattle increased. Some counties had reports of grasshoppers becoming a problem. Feral hog activity continued.

FAR WEST: Widely scattered showers were reported, but only Presido County reported any accumulation and that varied widely as well, from 0.5 inch to 3 inches. There were also reports of wildfires set off by lightning in Presidio County. Winter wheat was drying down. Fall-planted onions were being harvested. Chiles and cotton were off to a good start. Alfalfa growers were about to take a second cutting. Pecans were under heavy casebearer pressure. The first pesticide application was done, but because there was a very high egg count, a second application may be necessary.

NORTH: With hot dry weather, soil-moisture levels ranged from very short to adequate. The moisture situation was becoming a big concern in parts of the region. Crops were still holding on, but corn began to show signs of stress, and late-planted soybeans were on the verge of failing. Corn was beginning to tassel, and growers were beginning the wheat harvest, though about three weeks behind schedule. In other parts of the region, corn, soybeans, sorghum and winter wheat were all in fair to good condition. Producers were harvesting early season hay with yields in some cases only one-third of average. Because of earlier cool weather, Bermuda grass only recently came out of dormancy, and then the dry weather limited any substantial growth. Peaches continued to look very good. Peanuts and rice were in fair condition, and sunflower planting was complete. There were reports of grasshoppers becoming a problem, and feral hogs continue to be a major problem. Cattle were in fair to good condition. Rangeland and pastures were in fair to good condition but in need of rain.

PANHANDLE: Some parts of the region received rain but most of the region was hot, windy and dry. Most crops will need rain soon to continue growing. Irrigators were running sprinklers to prevent fields from drying down. Wheat was quickly maturing and still looked good. There was some hail damage reported as well as disease but not as bad as in previous years. Corn made excellent progress with warmer weather. Some cotton had to be replanted after recent rains, and some fields had not yet emerged due to lack of topsoil moisture. Livestock were doing well on spring pastures. Grasshopper numbers were increasing but were not yet an issue.

ROLLING PLAINS: Dry weather sped up the wheat harvest. Combines were rolling through fields, and the harvest was expected to be finished soon. Yields ranged from very good to below average. Dryland wheat yields varied greatly, from 20 to 60 bushels, depending upon soil, fertilizer and amount of rust. Cotton farmers were about half finished with planting. Earlier planted cotton was up and growing. Soil moisture levels were quickly dropping with highs of nearly 100 degrees. Grain sorghum looked good. Hay producers took their first cutting of Bermuda grass, and yields ranged from average to a little below. Livestock and pastures looked good. Sudan for hay production was off to a good start.

SOUTH: Good rains and spotty showers kept soil-moisture conditions in most of the area at adequate levels. In conjunction with hotter temperatures and warmer nights, conditions were quite favorable for crop development. Rangeland, pastures and livestock also benefited from frequent showers. In the northern part of the region, corn tasseled and continued to develop, as did cotton and sorghum. Also in that area, peanuts were being planted as weather permitted. The wheat harvest was nearly complete, the potato harvest was ongoing and hay was being baled. In the eastern part of the region, some rice stinkbug activity in grain sorghum was reported, as well as some pest activity in cotton fields. In the western part of the region, the wheat harvesting was ongoing, onion and watermelons made good progress, corn and sorghum fields were reported in good to excellent condition, and the cucumber harvest was completed. Pecans in that area had some aphid activity but were in good condition. In the southern part of the region, the vegetable harvest wound down. The onion harvest was complete and the melon harvest was ongoing.

SOUTH PLAINS: Rainfall ranged from 0.05 inch to 1.5 inches, and temperatures from 90 to 106 degrees. Soil moisture was short to adequate. Field activity included replanting of problem fields, spraying for weeds and cotton thrips, and preparing for irrigation season. Corn was in fair to good condition, showing very good growth with the higher temperatures and good moisture. Irrigated cotton was in fair to good condition, but the dryland crops began to show signs of moisture stress. Sorghum and peanuts were in good condition. Sunflower planting continued. Wheat was in fair to good condition, and was in the hard-dough stage and drying down. Pastures and rangeland were in fair to good condition, but more rain will be needed to maintain large amounts of forage grown due to earlier rainfall events. Livestock were mostly in good condition.

SOUTHEAST: Some counties received as much as 1 inch of rain while many areas remained dry. For example, the Walker County rainfall total through May was 9 inches behind normal. Significantly more rain was needed to produce adequate hay and forage through the summer. Grain sorghum growers sprayed for midges.

SOUTHWEST: No rain came to the region, but soil-moisture levels remained adequate. Crops and grass in pastures and rangeland continue to make very good progress as a result of cool nights, open weather and good moisture levels. High humidity combined with heavy early morning fog increased incidences of crop disease and insect pressure. Corn, sorghum, cotton, watermelons, cantaloupes, sunflowers, potatoes and peanuts all made excellent progress. Most corn and sorghum fields were past the blister stage and into the soft-dough stage. The wheat, spring onion, sweet corn and cabbage harvests were ongoing with top-notch yields and quality. Forage availability remained above average.

WEST CENTRAL: Hot, dry conditions continued in most areas, but there were scattered showers in others. Producers were spraying fields for weeds and fertilizing hay fields. The wheat harvest was under way with good to above-average yields but producers saw deflated prices due to low protein levels. Cotton growers continued planting. Early planted cotton looked very good. Rangeland and pastures remained in good condition in most areas. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Pecan producers were spraying for nut casebearers.

Source: AgriLife Communications, Texas A&M University