Wheat May Benefit From Snow

Silver lining to the cloud may be the moisture from a week of winter precipitation.

Published on: Jan 22, 2007

An entire week of ice topped off with a snowstorm in Texas was a great inconvenience to modern man. Ice and snow don't bode well with rush-hour traffic, modern school regiments, power lines and trees. So - no doubt - great damage was done with the January massive and prolonged winter storm system.

But there is one bright side, says longtime Taylor County Extension Agent Gary Bomar of Abilene. Winter wheat.

"I drove to pastures in Coleman County and Taylor County and the winter wheat looks good," Bomar reports. "One thing about it - every bit of this (snow) moisture will soak into the soil profile - and slowly - it really helps."

But how about the temperature not getting up to 32 degrees for 6 straight days?

"We can stand zero - or even 5 below - with winter wheat at the (early) growth stage it is right now," Bomar assures. "So the cold isn't hurting the wheat at this stage at all."

It's not like some late freeze in April or May, devastating wheat in late growth.

Cattle seek grazing in mid-January on snow-covered Texas pasture.

Bomar also sees good demand for wheat, and expects more grain sorghum to be planted in the Abilene region this spring, replacing some cotton acreage because of the growing ethanol industry.

"We could see a 20% to 25% reduction in cotton - and shift to other crops like grain," he notes.

Steve Stockton, both a rancher and cotton raiser south of Abilene in Taylor County, says he wasn't finished harvesting cotton. But he can't worry about that now - he's too busy in hauling hay bales to hungry cattle.

"I'll just have to finish harvesting cotton when the weather dries out," he allows.

The way this winter is going…that could be February.

Meanwhile, John Fox, area director of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service office in Abilene, and his staff have classed almost a million bales of cotton from West and East Texas, all of Oklahoma, and Kansas. Texas is expected to harvest near 6 million bales when all the cotton is finally ginned.