CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Some wheat producers across the state were lucky enough to have received much needed rain in late January, while others got none, Texas Cooperative Extension reports.

Steve Livingston, Extension agronomist in Corpus Christi, said almost all wheat in the Gulf Coast is planted for grazing.

“There is approximately 20,000 acres planted on the upper and lower Gulf Coast,” he said.

“In Texas we normally plant about 6 million acres, and we harvest about 3 million acres,” Livingston said. The harvested wheat is usually used as flour in breads; the 3 million acres not harvested are primarily used for cattle grazing, he added.

Most of the wheat was planted from mid-September to early November, when soil moisture was good. In November, however, the rain stopped and the ground began to dry out, until rain fell again in January, Livingston said.

“Now the wheat and winter grasses are beginning to grow, which will be good for producers who are grazing livestock on their wheat,” he said.

If producers are planning to cut their wheat for grain, they are beginning to take the cattle out of the fields, so the wheat can grow a bit more before harvest begins, he said.

“We’ve also had near-ideal weather lately with temperatures ranging from 55 degrees to 80 degrees during the day. This is really helping the wheat tiller out,” Livingston said. Tillers are stems that sprout from the base of plants.

“Because of the excellent soil moisture that we have had now and at planting time, this season is going to be very promising for wheat. All of the fields that I have seen lately are progressing well after the rainfall,” Livingston said.

Larry Redmon, Extension agronomist in Overton, said more rye than grain has been planted in his area. The fall and early winter have been dry in East Texas. “We have only received 56 percent of our long-term precipitation; thus winter pastures in many areas are far behind where they should be. In some cases, the seed for rye and ryegrass germinated, but died due to dry conditions,” he said.

Temperatures have been mild, but producers will be feeding hay 30 days longer than they should, due to the winter pasture setback associated with the dry conditions, he said.

“Or, if their winter pasture died, they will be feeding a lot more hay than originally planned,” Redmon said.

Galen Chandler, district Extension administrator in Vernon, said the wheat in the Rolling Plains have shown signs of green up and growth after recent rains. Most producers would prefer to give the wheat more time to grow before placing cattle on the pastures.

Scott Durham, district Extension administrator in San Angelo, said very little wheat grazing has been available in most counties in West Central Texas. However, recent rains have helped green up some small grains and pastures, he said.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com