COLLEGE STATION — Rains in the central and northern parts of the state should go a long way in relieving drought conditions, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service crops specialist.

“The rains we received in central and north Texas were significant in many areas,” said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension agronomist and Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences associate department head. “I think in those areas we’re going to see greatly improved conditions in winter pastures, and hopefully put a little water in stock ponds and reservoirs.”

Most summer crops were already harvested in those parts of the state, so the rain won’t have an effect on those, Miller said. But raising soil-moisture reserves will certainly brighten the picture for winter grains and other fall-planted crops.

In the Texas High Plains, the cotton harvest was proceeding well, but any rain at this time would slow the harvest down and could reduce the quality of the crop, he noted.

“I just drove from Amarillo through the Rolling Plains and down through the Blacklands late last week,” Miller said. “To me it looked like we had a good stand of small grains in many areas. Wheat and winter pastures were coming along and in mostly good shape. We’ve still got some droughty areas in the plains in South Texas and parts of West Texas.”

Miller noted it is difficult to get an accurate picture of moisture conditions without such services as the National Weather Service’s precipitation analysis website, which was inaccessible on Oct. 15.

“Certainly I and others rely a lot on the National Weather Service and the cumulative data they provide to do a lot of our assessments,” Miller said. “We’re not alone in that. Many policy makers and farmers and ranchers use the same data service to make decisions. So we’re kind of in the dark if our usual data sources are not available.”

The data Miller referred to, the weather service’s Advanced Hydrological Prediciton Service precipitation analysis site at http://water.weather.gov/precip/ , was back online Oct. 16, but no weather service personnel could be contacted as to any service issues.

More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/.