Texas crops, weather – March 23, 2010 (Posted By Mike Mecke)

‘Wheat looks 100 percent better than last year’
March 23, 2010
COLLEGE STATION – - More moisture came to the state in the form of rain or snow or both. The added moisture was bad for those wanting to plant spring crops but good for wheat, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
“It’s hurt us a little bit from a topdressing standpoint, for some producers not being able to get their fertilizer out as they would have liked,” said Dr. Todd Baughman, AgriLife Extension agronomist based in Vernon. “But as a whole we’re still in pretty good shape – from a wheat standpoint – and definitely look 100 percent better than we did last year.”

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. There’s some late wheat whose growth was hurt by the colder-than-usual weather, and some acreage didn’t get planted because of a wet fall, he said.

“There may have been a few more acres that didn’t get planted in Central and maybe South Texas, but as a whole most of the Panhandle and Rolling Plains got most of the acres they wanted in,” he said.

All of Texas has had an unusually wet winter, which has created problems for producers with all crops. North Texas has been particularly hurt by the wet winter, which not only affected the acres planted last fall but hurt those fields that did get planted, according to AgriLife Extension agents. Winter wheat there was in poor to fair condition going into spring.

Throughout the state, producers are now pulling cattle off winter wheat grazing in hopes of making a grain crop. Wheat prices are only one factor affecting their decision, Baughman said.

“Actually, wheat prices have been up and down; not necessarily where we would like them. The main thing is that in some cases people had those contracted for delivery, and typically part of their management strategy,” he said.

Regardless of the moisture situation, growers have to take cattle off winter wheat because it’s at the jointing stage. If cattle were left to graze, they would be hurting yields, he said.

“The biggest thing from the wheat cattle situation is that cattle are coming off wheat a bit light because of all the mud they’ve been dragging around,” he said.

About 75 percent of Texas wheat acreage is in the Rolling Plains and Panhandle regions, Baughman noted. The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters:

CENTRAL: Fair weather greatly improved condition of rangeland. Spring green-up helped improve the condition of cattle. Some producers began planting, but rain late in the reporting period slowed field operations. Some fruit trees may have been injured by a freeze, but the extent of damage, if any, had yet to be determined.

COASTAL BEND: Cool temperatures and rain slowed planting. Winter pastures improved with the rain and warmer weather.

EAST: Warmer daytime temperatures improved winter forages and greened up pastures. Most producers were completely out of hay, and the new forage growth was welcomed. There were a few rain showers followed by snow. Creeks and river bottoms remained flooded, driving feral hogs to the higher ground of pastures and other property where they did damage. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Calving continued with some cases of pneumonia and scours.

FAR WEST: The region received only trace amounts of precipitation. High winds dried out soils. Growers were preparing land for planting chiles and cotton. Some cotton acreage was already furrowed and pre-irrigated. Fall-planted onions were at fourth-leaf stage and growing. Alfalfa came out of dormancy. Fall planted wheat was at the fourth- to six-leaf stage. On Pawnee pecans, the hard outer-bud shell developed. Forbs were emerging on rangeland, most of which were not useful for livestock grazing, and in some cases, they were poisonous species, such as locoweed.

NORTH: Soil moisture levels ranged from adequate to surplus. Sunny and windy days helped dry things out and greened up pastures, but the favorable weather was followed by more rain and snow. As much as 10 inches of snow were reported in some areas. Cool nights slowed the growth of winter annuals. Though fields dried out some, most remained too wet for access. Farmers were trying to get land ready to plant corn, but were successful only on well-drained fields. The window of opportunity for planting corn was about to close. Those farmers who were not able to plant corn will try to plant grain sorghum in April. Soil temperatures remained fairly cool which may affect germination and early growth. Winter wheat was in poor to fair condition. Hay supplies were running very short and of low quality. Many producers ran out of hay and were looking for some to buy, but there was little available. Many had to go out of state to purchase hay at very high prices just to sustain cattle until grass greens up. Peach trees were blooming.

PANHANDLE: Rain early in the reporting period was followed by snow and high winds. The rain helped pastures and wheat, but conditions remained too wet in most areas for fieldwork. Some producers pulled cattle off wheat pastures in hopes of having a good grain crop. Producers continued to provide supplemental feed to cattle but were cutting back. Overall, cattle were in good condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: Warmer days caused wheat to rapidly grow. were in fair condition with rye grass holding its own. Producers began to slow down supplemental feeding. Weeds were becoming a major problem in most pastures. Soil levels were is in great shape throughout the region. Cotton producers were preparing for spring planting. Spring calving and foaling was in full swing. Cattle on wheat and rangeland were doing well.

SOUTH: High winds and temperatures in the 40s moved into the region late in the reporting period. Soil moisture levels were mostly adequate to surplus. Precipitation, sunshine and warmer temperatures kept rangeland and pastures in good condition. With cattle grazing on better pastures, there was little supplemental feeding. Corn and sorghum planting continued, and potato crops emerged in the northern parts of the region. Low soil temperatures and the lack of heat units prevented cotton planting in the eastern part of the region. Dryland wheat and oats made good progress; cabbage and spinach harvesting continued. Additional fields of cabbage were planted earlier but had yet developed. Farmers were actively planting corn, cotton and sorghum planting in the western part of the region. Corn and sorghum crops in the southern part of the region progressed very well. In the southern part of the region, spring planting continued and fall onion crops were being prepared for harvesting.

SOUTH PLAINS: The region received from 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain, followed by nearly 1 inch of snow on the first day of spring. Most producers were behind on fieldwork due to wet conditions. However, subsoil moisture levels were good. Wheat was in fair to good condition. Some wheat reached the jointing stage, and stems were beginning to elongate, but more consecutive days of warm weather were needed. Pastures and rangeland were in fair to good condition. Cattle were mostly in good condition with occasional supplemental feeding.

SOUTHEAST: Range conditions improved with warmer weather, but damage from last summer’s drought was still visible. Bermuda grass began to green up despite cool nights. Winter forages responded to sunshine and warmer temperatures too. Legumes showed better growth than ryegrass. Overall, pastures remained poor, and cattle were in poor condition. In some areas, there were reports of some cattle bloating because of rapid growths of winter annuals. A small fraction of corn and grain sorghum acreage was planted. Some fields were too wet to plant or still needed to be worked before planting could be done.

SOUTHWEST: Spring arrived, accompanied with as much as 0.75 inch of rain. Year-to-date rainfall remained at about twice the long-term average. The region was rapidly greening-up, but a late-winter cold spell with frost slowed growth progress. Large numbers of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes were blooming along roadsides for the first time in about four years. Forage availability improved significantly, and ranchers increased stocking rates. Corn and sorghum planting was complete. Fields showed good stands, but there was some leaf damage from frosts. Spinach, cabbage, potatoes, onions, wheat and oats made excellent progress. Cotton, cantaloupe, watermelon and cucumber planting was expected to start soon. The harvesting of spinach, cabbage, broccoli and carrots continued.

WEST CENTRAL: Most of the region received precipitation accompanied by cool temperatures and a few days of sunshine. Wheat and oats were doing very well with all the moisture. Producers were applying herbicides to control spring weeds and preparing fields for spring planting. Livestock producers continued supplemental feeding of livestock. Rangeland greened up.

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