COLLEGE STATION, TX (AP)--The state's wheat crop remains in critical condition, despite recent cold fronts that have brought up to 6 inches of snow in some parts of Texas, the Texas Agricultural Extension Service reports.
Extension agronomist Dr. Todd Baughman of Vernon said cold fronts can be helpful when they bring moisture in the form of snow, but that was not the case. He said light snowfall ranging from a half-inch to 2 inches covered the Rolling Plains last week, but moisture accumulation was minimal.
"The recent snow did little to help the wheat crop," Baughman said. "Growth continues to decline across the district."
He said the outlook for this year's crop hasn't changed much.
"It's not real promising," Baughman said. "Stands are poor and much of the wheat is dying."
District extension director Dr. Bob Robinson of Amarillo said the moisture was welcomed in the Panhandle, where snow amounts reached 6 inches, but more is needed.
"The snow is too little too late in some cases," he said.
Extension agronomist Dr. Billy Warrick of San Angelo said the freezing temperatures didn't bring moisture to West Central Texas. He said they brought wheat growth to a "grinding halt" instead.
"It doesn't do much growing until temperatures are above 40 degrees," he said. "So it's in the non-development mode."
Warrick said nutrients can't move through the plant when temperatures are low.
"When wheat is growing, it needs phosphorous and nitrogen," he said. "And those need warm temperatures to keep them moving."
Warrick said the crop will remain inactive until temperatures rise.
"There won't be any root development, tiller development or leaf development until the weather warms up again," he said.
Robinson said although growth was slowed by the cool weather, it would take an extended period of below-freezing temperatures to significantly delay the crop.
"Wheat is inactive when temperatures are low, but it's not going to set the crop back unless the temperature remains steadily below freezing for over 72 hours," he said. "What will really set the crop back is the lack of moisture."
In North Texas, district extension director Randy Upshaw of Dallas said dry soil continues to restrict wheat growth.
"The pastures are in dire need of rain," he said. "Some fields have been plowed under due to the dry, poor stands."
Upshaw said supplemental feeding of cattle continues, and the hay supply is adequate.
"Many producers are opting to sell though," Upshaw said. "At least prices are staying strong."
In West Central Texas, district extension director Scott Durham said there had been a few light snow flurries, but no significant moisture recorded. However, Durham said, "The cold weather has made wheat fields show even more signs of drought stress."
Hay supplies are very short with supplemental feeding continuing, he said.
"Brown County reported that some producers have sold their entire herds," Durham said. "The pastures are dry and overgrazed, and there is very little winter forage."
Durham said peach trees are being pruned and some buds are swelling.
"However, expected cold weather may damage some trees," he said.