Only About 20% of Texas Blacklands Wheat Planted

Central Texas wheat growers continue to have a challenging year, said Dr. Clark Neely, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service small grains specialist, College Station.

“There’s a couple of different stories going on now with wheat, the first being prevented (planted) acres in the Blacklands,” Neely said.

The region was dry all summer and going into the fall, then it started raining in October and hardly stopped until just recently, he said.

By some accounts, only 20 percent of the region’s planned wheat acres were planted, Neely said. Moreover, some wheat that did get planted early has spent much of its time since emergence in waterlogged soils or even standing water.

“Most of the rest of the state – like the High Plains and Rolling Plains — is in pretty good shape,” Neely said. “They’ve had plenty of moisture, but not so much that they weren’t able to get the crop in, though many acres were planted later than normal.”

Another issue for Central Texas wheat growers is volunteer wheat, he said. The region had a bumper crop in the works last spring. Then came record rains in April and May, resulting in head sprouting and heavy lodging. As a result many fields were zeroed out for crop insurance last year.

“So we had a lot of seed on the ground, and then it turned dry, and that seed did not germinate until the rains in October,” Neely said.

Wheat farmers are used to dealing with some volunteer wheat, he said. The common practice is to kill the spotty stands of volunteer wheat with a herbicide such as glyphosate before re-planting. In many instances, this year’s volunteer stands are much thicker.

“Because they either couldn’t get in the fields to spray it or because they couldn’t plant it, some farmers are going to attempt to take the thicker volunteer wheat to grain this year,” Neely said. “Theoretically, it can be done, but there are several concerns with taking volunteer wheat stands to grain.”

A lot will depend upon whether the volunteer wheat is a lodging-prone variety or one with pretty good straw strength and weather conditions, he said.

Another challenge wheat growers might face is rust, Neely said.

“Because we’ve had such a mild, wet winter, we could have another bad rust year,” he said. “It could be a problem for the entire state, but right now, we’re only seeing it around College Station.”

The spread of the disease will heavily depend on whether wet conditions continue through the spring, which is the current prediction. For the state, wheat acreage as a whole is estimated at 5.3 million acres this year, down 12 percent, he said.

“Part of the decrease is because of prevented plantings, but it’s also due to wheat prices being quite low right now,” Neely said.

AgriLife Extension district summaries can be found here.

Source: Texas AgriLife

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