"With the wheat crop looking the way it is now, cattle owners are starting to worry about having to sell the stock they recently purchased and cut back to the bare minimum," says Brady Rose Evans, Texas AgriLife Extension Service agent for Foard County, headquartered at Crowell, near the Oklahoma border.
All about weather
Grain prices in the New Year will be directly tied to favorable weather following the 2012 drought in the Midwest, says Dr. Mark Welch, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist, College Station.
It's all about the weather," Welch says. "You've got higher prices, and the yield potential is greater if they can get rain."
Texas farmers will plant more corn to take advantage of higher grain prices in 2013, Welch expects.
"Sorghum is a better fit for a lot of areas of Texas and those marginal areas competing with cotton, so sorghum is a better alternative," Welch says. "If we get a lot of moisture, it will also benefit wheat, and there will be a lot of incentive to keep that wheat crop for grain."
But if Santa Claus doesn't bring moisture, the New Year is going to start off pretty bleak for wheat.
"The lack of rain is really taking its toll on everything," says Langdon Reagan, Wilbarger County AgriLife Extension agent at Vernon, some 54 miles west of Wichita Falls in an area that traditionally grows a lot of winter wheat. "The wheat is really hurting."
In fact, conditions have become so severely dry heading into winter that a lot of stocker cattle that had been brought in for grazing already have started to exit the county, Reagan laments.
Up on the Texas High Plains, Mark Brown, Texas AgriLife Extension Agent for Lubbock County, says moisture is needed across the entire region. Brown says winter wheat is showing signs of moisture stress, except for some irrigated wheat fields.
It is even worse to the north at Amarillo.
"Extreme drought, and dryland wheat is in bad shape, some dying," says Burton Williams, AgriLife Extension agent for Hansford County, north of Amarillo.