March Agricultural Summary
Most of the United States recorded little precipitation for the month of
March with large portions of the Great Plains, the Great Basin, and
California recording under 25 percent of normal precipitation. The major
exception to this trend occurred in a band stretching from east Texas across
the Mississippi Delta and the Ohio River Valley where locations received
6 to 12 inches of rainfall for the month. Temperatures were above average
across the western United States with scattered locations across California,
Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota recording average temperatures
more than 10°F above normal. A band stretching from Texas, the Mississippi
Delta, the eastern Corn Belt, and New England recorded below average
temperatures for the month with temperatures more than 6°F below normal in
New York and New England.
Winter wheat conditions deteriorated in several northern Great Plains States.
Kansas producers reported 39 percent of the winter wheat crop in good to
excellent condition on March 29, down 5 percentage points from March 1.
Condition ratings in Nebraska and South Dakota dropped to 34 and 35 percent
in the good to excellent categories, respectively. These ratings were down 28
and 14 percentage points, respectively, from the beginning of the month. In
Kansas, the winter wheat crop was 15 percent in the jointing stage or beyond
on March 29, 10 percentage points ahead of last year but 3 percentage points
behind the 5-year average. Colorado's winter wheat was 2 percent jointing at
the end of the month, equal to last year and slightly behind the 5-year
By the end of the month, Texas pasture and range condition was reported at
47 percent in the good to excellent categories, 24 percentage points above
the 5-year average. Alabama and New Mexico had rated pasture and range
condition at 49 percent good to excellent. Cold and wet conditions led to
less favorable pasture ratings in other parts of the United States with
Virginia at 25 percent, North Carolina at 27 percent, and Arkansas at
28 percent in the good to excellent categories, respectively.
At the beginning of the month, wheat, oats, and other winter forage crops
continued to grow well in California. Alfalfa fields were cultivated and
planted. Ground was prepared for planting and beds were shaped in some
fields, while others remained fallow awaiting warmer weather for planting.
Alfalfa fields were irrigated and treated for pests. Alfalfa seed fields
regrew after a short dormancy period. Established alfalfa was making good
progress. Field preparations were underway for the spring planting of corn
and cotton. Growers prepared ground for the upcoming cotton season by tilling
soil, making furrows, and repairing drip tape. By the end of the month,
irrigation of field crops continued due to the lack of rain in the State.
Growers were reporting the need to pre-irrigate fields to maintain moisture
levels so that there will be sufficient levels when they do plant. Planting
schedules were a couple of weeks ahead of average. Field preparations were
underway for the spring planting of corn and cotton. Forage and grain crops
continued to grow well but slowly, with wheat beginning to head out. Most
weed spraying in forage crops came to an end and insect spraying began,
particularly for alfalfa weevil in alfalfa. First cuttings of alfalfa were
underway and some fields were baled.
In Florida, processing plants finished with early and midseason oranges,
began running grapefruit or had transitioned to late orange harvesting. The
Valencia harvest was lagging behind last season due to low maturity levels.
Honey tangerines, colored grapefruit, white grapefruit, midseason oranges,
Temples, and Valencias were going fresh. Grove activity included fertilizing,
irrigating two to three times a week, some hedging and topping of trees after
harvest, applying of herbicide, and removing brush. Citrus trees were in full
bloom, petal drop began, and small pea size fruit was apparent on early
variety citrus trees.