Contact: Edith A. Chenault, (979) 845-2886, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEGE STATION – For the state’s wheat producers, the trick is receiving rainfall, and the treat is completing fall planting, the Texas Agricultural Extension Service reports.
Extension agronomist Dr. Billy Warrick of San Angelo said while most Texas wheat producers have finished planting, some regions are still awaiting much-needed rainfall.
He said there has been very little planting in West Central Texas because of the lack of moisture.
“Producers with irrigated fields have planted, and also some producers have dry planted,” Warrick said. “But the majority in this area are waiting for moisture.”
He said producers can only afford to wait for rainfall until mid-November.
“We are in a critical period,” Warrick said. “We have two weeks remaining in the desirable planting window.”
He said planting in the “window” allows the roots to make the best use of moisture, ensuring proper root development.
“We can plant until Nov. 15 without impacting yields,” Warrick said.
He said a strong wheat crop is important in Texas not only for the grain harvest but also for forage.
“Under optimum conditions, producers would seed in September to get forage for cattle,” Warrick said. “Then there would be income from the livestock’s weight gain.”
He said the disadvantage to planting late in the “window” is that producers lose fall forage.
“This is one aspect of wheat that is often overlooked,” Warrick said. “But when you miss the opportunity for grazing, you miss a huge potential for income.”
He said the forage availability, in turn, has an impact on stocker cattle investments.
“These investors are counting on grazing,” Warrick said. “If there is low forage availability, then investors have to look to more expensive options, like feedlots, that reduce their bottom line.”
He said producers who plant outside of the “window” will need to increase their seeding rates in attempt to produce average yields.
District extension director Dr. Bob Robinson of Amarillo said planting is 95 percent complete in the Panhandle.
“Producers began planting in mid-August and where moisture is available, the crop is making good progress,” he said. “The irrigated wheat is in really good shape.”
He said the dryland wheat is lacking moisture.
Robinson said many areas, including the eastern region of the Texas Panhandle, are in desperate need of rain.
“Moisture is always a problem,” he said. “We had really good moisture the first half of the year, but the past 90 days have not been good.”
Robinson said moisture is critical for producing a good wheat crop, because wheat is also needed for forage.
“We’re beginning to put stocker cattle out on the wheat,” he said.
Robinson said some producers have encountered problems with greenbugs.
“The insect problems, however, have been minimal,” he said.
In East Texas, district extension director Tony Douglas of Overton said, the moisture shortage has delayed winter pasture development.
“Despite the lack of rainfall, wheat planting is complete,” he said.
Douglas said livestock conditions are fair to good.
“Market numbers are certainly higher,” he said.
Douglas also said pecan harvest is under way.
“We are seeing fair to good yields,” he said.
District extension director Lin Wilson of Corpus Christi said a lack of moisture is also affecting agriculture in the Coastal Bend.
“Some oats are up,” he said. “But they are still in need of rain.”
Wilson said winter pastures are being prepared and planted, and rainfall is needed.
“Despite the dryness, cattle are in good condition,” he said.
Wilson said pecan quality has also been also affected by dry conditions.
“Some orchards have been harvested,” he said. “The natives are falling and producers continue to prepare (river) bottoms for harvest.”
The following specific livestock, crop and weather conditions were reported by district extension directors:
PANHANDLE: soil moisture is short to very short. Cotton harvest is under way. Soybean, corn harvests are nearly complete. Sorghum producers waiting for a freeze to dry down crop. Wheat planting almost complete; greenbugs present in some fields. Cattle doing well.
SOUTH PLAINS: soil moisture is short to adequate. Pastures and ranges in fair to good condition. Cotton harvest continues. Corn harvest nearing completion. Sorghum, soybean and sunflower harvests under way. Very good crops of peanuts, pecans reported.
ROLLING PLAINS: soil moisture is short. Most of the wheat crop is planted; one-fourth has emerged. Cotton harvest beginning with the use of harvest aids. Peanut harvest nearing completion. Supplemental feeding continues. Poor range conditions.
NORTH TEXAS: soil moisture is very short to short. Insect populations high; grasshoppers still a problem. Cotton harvest is complete. Drought stress is severe on fields planted for forage. Some wheat has emerged. Pastures declining in quality. Pecans look good.
EAST TEXAS: soil moisture is short. Wheat planting complete. Pastures are short; winter pasture development delayed because of dry weather. Cattle doing well. Cole crop planting beginning. Pecan harvest under way; fair to good yields reported.
FAR WEST TEXAS: soil moisture is very short. Cotton harvest progressing well; cotton being defoliated daily. Wheat is drying out. Range, pasture conditions deteriorating. Some frost damage on warm season vegetables. Above average pecan yields expected.
WEST CENTRAL TEXAS: soil moisture is short to short. Cotton harvest continues. Most oat fields have been planted; emergence delayed because of dry weather. Some wheat dry planted. Cattle doing well; some livestock culled due to drought. Pecan harvest beginning.
CENTRAL TEXAS: soil moisture is very short. Wheat has not emerged due to dry soil. All crops showing signs of stress from drought. Some dryland peanuts fields being grazed due to low yields not paying for harvest costs. Cotton harvest complete; poor lint quality.
SOUTHEAST TEXAS: No information available.
SOUTHWEST TEXAS: soil moisture is adequate. Dry weather has delayed small grain plantings. Pasture conditions are poor and getting worse. Livestock producers are starting to feed and there is concern about hay shortages if winter rains don’t materialize.
COASTAL BEND: soil moisture is short. Land preparation occurring for all crops. Second rice harvest is complete; yields are fair to good. Good peanut crop reported. Cattle in good condition. Pecan quality affected by dry conditions; natives are falling.
SOUTH TEXAS: soil moisture is short to adequate. Some fall sorghum nearing harvest. Pastures and ranges in good condition. Sugarcane harvest slowed due to wet fields. Some fall vegetable harvest has begun on various greens. Citrus harvest continues.