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News Articles

Nov. 10, 2004
Writer: Stephanie Jeter, (979)862-1556,
Contact: Dr. Dale Rollins, (325)653-4576,
Dr. Wayne Hanselka, (361)265-9203,

COLLEGE STATION - Texas' quail population is flying high, Texas Cooperative Extension reports.

Dr. Dale Rollins of San Angelo, Extension wildlife specialist, said quail hunting season for 2004-2005 might be the best Texas has seen in 20 years.

"We won't really know [the number of quail] until later in the season when it cools off and a hard freeze knocks back the vegetation a bit," he said.

Regardless of future numbers, Rollins said the present report is good enough to make this a "great year for hunting quail."

Quail thrive in wet weather, said Dr. Wayne Hanselka of Corpus Christi, Extension associate department head and program leader for rangeland ecology management. And wet weather is exactly what Texas had this year.

"Quail are so good this year basically because we had good rainfall," he said. "Quail are a ‘boom ‘n bust' type of species. Their [population] boom is very dependent on rainfall."

In addition to keeping the streams running and quail cool, Hanselka said rain also provides ample vegetation.

"Vegetation can help hide a quail from its avian predator, the hawk, and from ground predators that get into nests," Hanselka said. Ground predators include skunks, raccoons and possums.

Rollins said the cool, wet summer extended the breeding season of quails.

"As a result, we had a good hatch in June, and then we were able to build on that foundation with additional hatches in July, August and even September," he said.

Rain also helped boost quails' nutritional intake. About 70 percent of quails' food is made up of seeds, Rollins said. The remainder of their diet is insects and plants.

Historically most of Texas had excellent quail hunting, Rollins said, but today quail are mainly found in the Rolling Plains and in South Texas.

Land use changes have caused quail habitat to dwindle in East and Central Texas, he said.

"[The Rolling Plains and South Texas] are still characterized by larger land holdings and (is) managed extensively as opposed to intensively." Extensively-managed land consists mainly of native rangeland which has plants favored by quail. Land that is intensively managed has replaced native rangeland with tame pastures such as coastal bermudagrass.

Protecting the integrity of quail habitats can be profitable for landowners, Rollins said. In some areas income from quail hunting can surpass the money made from leasing the land for grazing.

"The single best recipe for increasing quail abundance is to ensure that you've maximized the ‘usable space' for quail on the property," he said. That includes providing sufficient permanent cover available for quail.

"For the quail range in Texas, this means attention to brush and grazing management."

The following crop, livestock and weather conditions were reported by Extension districts:

PANHANDLE: Soil moisture is short to surplus. Temperatures were below average. Snow was reported. Corn harvest was halted by rain and snow. Yield reports were very good. Only a few soybean fields haven't been harvested. Yield reports were good. Peanut harvest was halfway complete. Cotton was rated mostly fair. Lack of adequate heat concerns producers because of yield and micronaire discounts. Most wheat is planted, and stands were rated good to excellent. Some disease has been reported. Rangelands and pastures were rated poor to excellent. Cattle were rated good. Some supplemental feeding was initiated.

SOUTH PLAINS: Soil moisture is excellent. Blizzard conditions with 8 to 12 inches of snow were reported. Snow shut down all harvest operations for the week. Yield and quality of cotton and peanuts were adversely affected by the weather. Wheat growth and grazing potential for stocker cattle benefited from the moisture. Rangelands and pastures were good to excellent. Forage availability was good. Cattle were in fair to good condition. Wheat will be planted; soil moisture is excellent.

ROLLING PLAINS: Soil moisture is adequate. Rain and the first freeze of the year were reported. Cotton harvest was delayed due to the rain. Farmers will begin stripping again when fields dry out. Wheat is progressing well. Armyworms have been reported. Peanut harvest is about halfway complete; leafspot problems have affected yields and quality. Rangelands and pastures were in good condition. Livestock were in good condition. Limited fall calving problems were reported. Hunting season began.

NORTH: Soil moisture is adequate to surplus. Rain was reported. Fields were too wet to work. Cotton was rated fair to good. Wheat was in fair to excellent condition. Winter wheat planting continued. Rangelands and pastures were fair to excellent. Winter pastures made good growth progress.

EAST TEXAS: Soil moisture is adequate. Measurable rainfall and moderate temperatures were reported. Winter pasture planting was active. Cattle were in good condition. Cotton harvest was under way.

FAR WEST: Soil moisture is short to adequate. Cooler temperatures and some snow were reported. Pecan harvest began. Cotton harvest continued. Winter wheat emerged. Forage availability is good. Livestock was in good condition.

WEST CENTRAL: Soil moisture is adequate. Rain and cooler temperatures were reported. Small grains were rated excellent. Emerging wheat is thriving after recent rainfall. Some green bug infestations have been reported. Cotton producers continue to wait for fields to dry to finish harvest. Rangelands and pastures were fair to excellent. Livestock remained in excellent condition. Pecan harvest was in full swing. A moderate crop was reported.

CENTRAL: Soil moisture is adequate to surplus. Fields were too wet for work. Spring calves were marketed. Cow condition was excellent in most herds. Losses continued to be reported in cotton fields not harvested. Pecan yields were excellent, but scab problems have been reported.

SOUTHEAST: Soil moisture is adequate to surplus. Cooler temperatures and some rain were reported. Winter annual planting began. Cotton and soybean harvest was hampered by wet fields. Calves were being weaned for marketing. Peanut harvest was complete. Pecan harvest was in full swing.

SOUTHWEST: Soil moisture is adequate to surplus. Temperatures dropped significantly. Forage availability was above average. Rangelands and pastures are growing well. Cotton harvest is complete. Rain interrupted peanut harvest; yields are down. Fall vegetable planting is almost complete. Spinach, onions, potatoes, green beans and carrots growing well. Cabbage harvest was in full swing. Land preparation for early spring planting was completed. Small grains made good progress. Hunting dominated ranching activities. Bird season remained open.

COASTAL BEND: Soil moisture is adequate. Rain and cooler weather was reported. Producers continued to prepare land for fall. Hunting land managers made improvements and prepared for guests. Most spring calves have been shipped. Cattle and pastures remained in good condition.

SOUTH: Soil moisture is adequate. Weather was mild. Livestock were rated fair. Forage availability was fair. Rangelands and pastures were showing signs of slow growth. Fall vegetables were progressing well.

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