“Recent cold fronts have resulted in the soil temps dropping into the upper 50s for a few days,” Stapper reports, and says farmers should consider a target period when soil temperature are at 65 degrees for three consecutive days with a five-day favorable weather forecast before putting seed into the ground. They should also avoid poorly drained soil conditions that could cause additional problems.

In the Rio Grande Valley, ample rainfall in February and early March have helped onion growers “at just the right time,” but with harvest to begin in the next week to 10-days, additional rainfall could cause unwanted problems.

“We don’t want anymore rain or heavy dew until we get this crop harvested,” says onion grower Don Ed Holmes. “What we need now is some sunshine to finish up the crop and get them out of the field.

Holmes says Valley cotton and sorghum growers have complained about wet conditions that have kept them out of their fields.

For most of Western Oklahoma, Southern New Mexico and most of Texas, including the Coastal Bend and the high plains, more water is needed in spite of recent rains. Cotton growers near Corpus Christi say another 12 inches to 15 inches of rain are needed to return the area to pre-drought conditions.

“Recent rains have helped the meteorological drought a little, but more rain to replenish reservoirs, rivers and streams, ponds and ground water – the hydrological drought conditions – is greatly needed, and that will take some time,” Oklahoma climatologist McManus said.

He says while drought relief looked distant in late September, he is more optimistic now that conditions will slowly improve throughout the 2012 growing season.

“If we can continue to get some rain in spring and especially in the summer, I have hope for a fair crop year. Because of the long drought I think it may be drier than we would like, but working in our favor is that we should escape the extreme heat we experienced last year, which served to dry things out even more.”