Mixed Reviews For Wheat Crop

Dr. Brent Bean, Agronomist for the Texas AgriLIFE Extension
Dr. Brent Bean, Agronomist for the Texas AgriLIFE Extension

When the blizzard and freezing temperatures gripped the region just about a month ago, wheat farmers knew it would have an impact on their crop.

They just didn't know how bad.

Now, crop assessment and reports have come back and it's a split basically at I-40.

Depending on if the crop is north or south of there, it's a very different story.

In the northern Panhandle region, where the blizzard snow fell the hardest, wheat was insulated and capable of resisting the freezing temperatures.

And as of now, experts say it is expected to yield a healthy crop.

But producers are more skeptical than the scientists.

"To really see the extent of the freeze damage we're really going to need to see it head out, and then see how many of those heads turn white," said Billy Bob Brown, a farmer in Carson County.

That has already happened in the southern portion of the high plains.

"It's very sensitive to freeze at that time. and so what it does, is it sterilizes those heads as they're getting ready to emerge and they produce no seed," said Dr. Brent Bean, an Agronomist for the Texas AgriLIFE Extension.

For several weeks agronomists have been dissecting wheat checking to see how healthy it is.

"That's that little immature head. And that's what it should still look like. It's green and it's going to produce grain eventually," said Dr. Bean.

One particular crop Dr. Bean showed up has about five percent of damage.

It's estimated that every crop from wheeler and Hereford south to Abilene has some extent of damage.

A few are whiped out, and for several farmers this is the second year in a row.

"That makes for really difficult times as you can imagine. Working for a couple years and only getting partial pay for what you do," said Brown, who's also on the Board of Directors for the Texas Farm Bureau.

Brown says studies show a single dollar spent in an agriculture community is recycled seven times.