Last weekend’s rainfall likely will have some Southwest farmers eager to begin planting small grain crops and others who have already dusted in wheat for winter grazing anxious to see seedlings coming out of the soil.

But rainfall, which varied from as much as 6 inches in some cases to no more than a trace in others, may have come too soon for planting in some areas and is not enough to assure wheat and other small grains enough moisture to make it to winter dormancy.

“Wherever rainfall was received it was definitely a welcome sight,” says Texas AgriLife Extension small grains specialist Rob Duncan, College Station.  

Duncan says small grains in several areas across the state had already emerged, thanks to previous rainfall during the past month. “These fields will benefit greatly, and should really take off following this recent precipitation.

“Regarding fields that were planted but not yet emerged, this rain will be very beneficial to achieving a uniform stand. Nonetheless, the small grains crop will only benefit for a week to several weeks, depending upon the amount of rainfall received. Due to the prolonged drought over the past 12 months, the soil moisture levels are so depleted that this welcome shower will only provide temporary relief.”

He expects more farmers will begin seeding following the recent rain. “I expect that this precipitation will turn a percentage of eager farmers to planting as soon as they can get on the field. However, depending upon your location and the purpose of your crop, it may be too early to plant.”

He says planting too soon exposes the crop to further potential production issues. “Please review the purpose (forage, dual-purpose, grain only) of your small grains crop and optimum planting dates before planting any seed in the ground.”