Wheat crop below average; cotton planting delayed
COLLEGE STATION -- The Texas wheat crop remains below average, and very little cotton has been planted, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist.
Dry weather is the culprit for the poor wheat crop, while lower-than-normal soil temperatures have been the primary reason for the delay in the planting of spring crops, said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension agronomist and Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences associate department head, College Station.
“Much of South Texas corn and sorghum crops are planted, while cool weather and wet soils on the coast delayed planting,” Miller said. “Much of the dryland wheat crop in the High Plains and Rolling Plains remains in very poor shape, with 87 percent of the crop rated from fair to very poor conditions. However, the irrigated crop is in relatively good shape. In my opinion, it (dryland wheat) will be a below-average crop because of dry weather.”
It’s unusually cold weather that has slowed the planting of spring crops, he said.
“The state climatologist says Texas averaged three degrees colder over the last couple months than normal,” he said. “I don’t know if that will equate to any difference in yields, but we could have some stand problems associated with the cold weather.”
Miller said that though drought conditions have improved somewhat -- particularly in the Coastal Bend and South Texas -- drought continues for a fourth year in the Panhandle, South Plains, Rolling Plains, and parts of Central Texas.
“Meanwhile, there is some hope on the horizon in the form of the possible development of an El Niño climatic pattern this year,” he said. “Current models are showing a chance of this development by midsummer. “
A strong El Niño typically causes wetter and cooler conditions in Texas.
“Right now, they’re giving about a 50 percent chance for an El Niño, which is a little better than a coin toss,” he said.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries for the March 18 report:
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported light rain slowed the drying of soils and preserved rangeland quality for a little longer. Windy and cool weather continued to threaten new growth of foliage. Winter wheat and oats were in fair to good condition. Rain during the next three weeks will be crucial for several spring and summer crops. Producers had to provide feed and access to water to maintain the condition of all livestock and wildlife.
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported light rains left fields slightly muddy. In the northern part of the reporting area, many corn farmers had still not planted due to low soil temperatures. In the southern part of the region, most corn and grain sorghum fields were planted, with some already emerged. Also in the southern counties, most producers were ready to plant cotton, but had muddy fields to contend with. Wheat was beginning to head and appeared to be in fair to good condition. Growers were fertilizing pastures between rains. There was limited forage growth, but rapid improvement was expected for both grasses and cattle as weather warmed.
Robert Burns has nearly 30 years’ experience writing about agriculture and agricultural-related research. He writes about Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service activities at the Overton Center and centers in Stephenville and Temple.