It is time to plant winter pasture and wheat for many Texas regions, but either a lack of moisture or a plenitude of armyworms is causing producers to hold off, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
"Unfortunately, we don't have adequate soil moisture, which makes it a challenge getting a successful stand," said Dr. Vanessa Corriher, AgriLife Extension forage specialist.
In East Texas, several factors have put hay in short supply, Corriher said.
"The hay crop is down because of a fairly dry summer," she said. "Also, last year a lot of East Texas producers sold all their hay to South Texas during their extreme drought."
For those who don't produce their own hay, the situation becomes even more dour, as there won't be much local surplus for them to buy, she said.
Winter pasture, usually either ryegrass or a legume mix, is generally over-seeded into dormant warm-season grass pastures, Corriher said.
Fertilization can be delayed until a successful stand emerges, but for a good stand, the seeding needs either relatively high soil moisture levels at planting or a rain shortly after. And therein lies the problem: The East Texas fall is off to a dry start, she said.
"Winter pasture is going to be pretty critical this year if we can actually get any planted," Corriher said.
The hay situation in other parts of the state was better, according to AgriLife Extension agent reports. In South Texas, which had extreme hay shortages last year, hay supplies were reported as "good" and prices were stable.
In the Rolling Plains, soil moisture levels were good for planting wheat for winter grazing, but reports of armyworms have caused many producers to hold back planting until cooler weather slows the pest's activity.
In some Southeast counties, too much rain kept producers out of fields and stalled hay harvesting.