“Lack of rainfall and record triple-digit temperatures have scorched crops and rangeland throughout parts of Texas causing drought losses to reach $3.6 billion, say economists with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

By the end of the year, losses could exceed $4.1 billion, the loss estimated in Texas in 2006, if sufficient rainfall isn’t received to revive crops and forage, economists say.

Total crop losses this year are estimated at $2.6 billion and livestock, another $974 million since November 2008.

“Extreme or exceptional drought conditions for the second year in a row and prolonged weather with over 100-degree temperatures have devastated agricultural crops and livestock operations, especially in Central and South Texas,” explains Carl Anderson, AgriLife Extension economist and professor emeritus. “This area covers about 40% of Texas. With the exception of Northeast Texas, the Trans Pecos and the Southern Panhandle areas, the entire state is suffering from lack of sufficient rain for more than a year.”

Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension agronomist and a member of the Governor’s Texas Drought Preparedness Council, says the drought is also impacting water supplies for more than 30% of the state.

“Most dryland crops in South and Central Texas, the Gulf Coast and the Rio Grande Valley are either zeroed-out (total loss) or will yield a small fraction of their normal yields,” Miller says.

For more on drought assistance programs in the state, see www.texascattleraisers.org/drought.html

For the week ending July 26, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service:

Corn – 55% is at or beyond silking, the same as last year, but 21% behind the five-year average. Development was most rapid in the Corn Belt where 34% of the crop began silking in Iowa and Minnesota during the week, while 27 % of the crop in Illinois reached the silking stage. 7% is at or beyond the dough stage, the same as last year, but 10% slower than normal. Doughing was most advanced in North Carolina at 80%, while the crop had yet to reach the dough stage in Iowa and Minnesota, as well as in the northern Great Plains and Great Lakes regions. The corn crop was rated 70% Good to Excellent, 4% more than a year ago.

Soybeans – Blooming reached 63% overall. That’s 3% ahead of last year, and 13% behind average. Crop development advanced rapidly across much of the growing region, but remained at or behind the average pace in all states except South Dakota. Pod setting reached 20%, which is one point ahead of last year, but 16% behind average. Pod set had begun in all estimating states, but was most advanced in the Delta, with Mississippi leading all states at 86% complete. 67% is rated as Good to Excellent, which is 5% more than at the same time last year.

Winter wheat – 79% of the crop is harvested, on par with last year, but 5% slower than average. Harvest was just beginning in Montana, with progress lagging over a week behind normal. Harvest was complete or nearly complete in the three largest winter wheat producing states of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Spring wheat – 93% of the crop has headed, which is 5% behind last year and the average pace. The most rapid development continued in North Dakota and Montana, where 13% and 12% of the crop headed during the week. 74% of the crop was rated Good to Excellent, 14% more than a year ago.

Barley – 95% has headed, which is 1% in back of last year and 2% behind the average pace. Crop development was complete or virtually complete in the Pacific Northwest, while progress lagged 4 and 5 points behind normal in Minnesota and Montana, respectively. 77% is rated Good to Excellent, compared to 57% at the same time a year ago.

Sorghum – 38% is at or beyond heading, 4% behind last year and 8% behind the average pace. The biggest delays were evident in Illinois and Missouri, where soggy fields earlier in the season slowed planting progress. Sorghum coloring has reached 29% complete, on par with last year and one point ahead of the five-year average. Missouri’s crop began turning color during the week, slightly behind the normal pace. After advancing 33 points during the week, the crop in Louisiana was 15 points ahead of normal. 52% is rated Good to Excellent, 1% less than the same time a year ago.

Oats – 19% of the crop is in the bin, which is 1% ahead of last year but 14% behind the five-year average. The pace was behind normal in all estimating states except Texas, and had yet to begin in North Dakota. 55% was rated Good and Excellent, compared to 57% at the same time last year.

Pasture – 50% of the nation’s pasture and range is still rated as Good or Excellent this summer, 6% more than at the same time last year. 23% is rated Poor or Very Poor, compared to 26% a year ago.

States with the worst pasture conditions – at least 40% of the acreage rated Poor or worse – include: Arizona (58%); California (90%); and Texas (58%).

The lushest conditions – at least 40% rated Good or better – exist in: Alabama (57%); Arkansas (45%); Colorado (73%); Florida (85%); Idaho (77%); Illinois (82%); Indiana (60%); Iowa (74%); Kansas (66%); Kentucky (76%); Maine (63%); Michigan (46%); Minnesota (43%); Mississippi (42%); Missouri (66%); Nebraska (74%); Nevada (73%); New York (82%); North Carolina (42%); North Dakota (76%); Ohio (52%); Oregon (47%); Pennsylvania (63%); South Dakota (72%); Tennessee (67%); Utah (79%); Virginia (62%); West Virginia (58%); and Wyoming (76%).