Water for winter wheat

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - A relatively wet December is giving area farmers a glimmer of hope for a successful winter wheat crop.

Cooler temperatures and precipitation are key for a winter wheat crop to survive.

That's exactly the kind of weather the Texas panhandle is seeing this month. This may end up being the first month we have had in over a year with above normal precipitation.

Farmer Dale Artho says, "One of the things I have to wake up to every morning is to have hope. Rain brings hope. That gives us at least a shot at growing a crop."

But things didn't start off on a good foot. The soil was so dry it delayed planting.

However the recent wet weather is helping to sustain the crop until spring.

Brent Bean with Texas AgriLife Extension says, "We're so dry, the wheat could potentially just die this winter without any moisture, so the moisture we just received and hopefully more in the future, is just going to go a long way in helping that crop."

It's a good start, but the area still needs a significant amount of precipitation.

Kody Bessent with Texas Wheat Producers says, "If you look at historical averages, we are still very depleted in our sub-soil moisture. On average, we should have about 20 inches this time of year."

Farmers desperately need the wet weather to continue, because they are counting on a good crop now more than ever.

Bean explains, "When you get two bad years in a row, that's really tough for most of them to handle. It is very important that 2012 turns out to be at least an average year, not a disaster like we had last year with the dry land crops."

Which is why Artho planted more in hopes of salvaging a bad year.

Artho says, "The summer crops I planted for dry land, they failed. There is no coverage at all on that acreage so I increased winter wheat by double."

He adds it's important to cover land where crops were abandoned to prevent soil erosion.