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Big Country wheat crop facing one problem after another

By Chelsea Humphrey, chumphrey@ktxs.com
Published On: Apr 09 2013 06:15:20 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 10 2013 08:59:37 AM CDT


ABILENE, Texas -

Dry weather and freezes are making problems for this year's winter wheat crop.

Springtime is critical when it comes to the winter wheat crop. With rainfall totals more than an inch and a half below normal for this time of year, the wheat is far from where it should be.

"The dry phase that we went through just really kept a lot of the wheat from reaching its full potential" said Robert Pritz, Taylor County Extension Agent.

After laying dormant for much of the winter, the plants are trying to fill out for the potential harvest.

The roots weren't able to develop as they should have, though, and in late March, the crop was dealt another blow.

During the mornings of March 25 and 26, temperatures fell into the 20s. This late season freeze had the potential to create huge losses.

It takes a week and a half to two weeks to get a good estimate of the damage but if the fragile plants are now unable to produce grain, it'll be latest in a long line of bad news for the wheat producers.

"That's gonna hit us again and this is already the second, third year we've had to deal with lower than normal yields in our wheat crop,” Pritz said.

Nearly $80 million of wheat is produced in the Big Country, mostly coming from Knox, Haskell, Runnels, Taylor, and Jones counties. The majority of those fields are considered "dryland" fields, meaning they rely solely on rainfall for their water.