May 28, 2009 - Many growers in Northeast Texas are still concerned about the condition of wheat and corn in the area. Many have reported that yields will be dependent on location and time of planting.
“Highway 75 from Dallas to Denison pretty much draws a line in which wheat fields were damaged by frost and freezing temperatures,” said Ben Scholtz, a Texas Wheat Board grower in Collin and Hunt County. “Most of the wheat fields west of 75 were hit pretty hard by the freeze. Fields that have hills were able to escape the low settling cold temperatures (and) may make decent yields. However, fields along creek and river bottoms probably won’t make much of a crop this year.”
While the eastern half of the area faired better, the outlook appears to be the same.
“East of 75, many farmers didn’t have much freeze damage, but wind may have set them back though. There were areas however, especially in low areas, that wheat fields suffered freeze damage.”
Though some growers might have dodged a bullet, most wheat growers in the area are expecting to receive much in yields this year.
“Most farmers will make anywhere from five to 30 bushels per acre,” said Ronny Lumpkins, a grower in Leonard. “It has been pretty bad in our area. I am expecting to see at least 50 to 60 percent loss on wheat, but we won’t exactly know until we get a combine out there and make a few passes.”
Scholtz added he has noticed much of the wheat in the area had a high shatter potential.
“A common problem followed by a slight or severe freeze is shatter potential,” he said. “As a high wind comes, the grain is shaken loose from the pod and falls to the ground. I have also noticed that the leaves of the blooms fall off easy as well. The freeze damage sure did hurt many farmers in the area.”
Wheat growers aren’t the only producers in a wait-and-see situation. Corn producers are also trying to come back from a rough start.
“We have just had too much rain,” said Lumpkins. “The saturated soil is not allowing oxygen to the the corn’s root system. If farmers got their corn planted early, and it got a good stand before all of this rain came in, they may be alright. Corn that is only six to 10 inches doesn’t like the extreme wet conditions.”
Planting timing and weather conditions have had the biggest effect on corn conditions.
“The corn crop is way behind in growth stages,” explained Lumpkins. “It should be at least waist-high and should be tasseling out here pretty soon, but it’s not even knee-high in most places. Most fields are pretty clean and free of weeds and grass, they are just way behind in growing. It is hard to tell if it will make it.”
For corn that has emerged and even made a good stand, the outlook is still questionable, as many growers in the area didn’t have adequate time to top-dress their crops.
“The rains came in just about the time farmers were getting ready to top-dress their corn,” said Lumpkins. “It has been too wet to even think about getting a tractor out in the field. I think most of the corn is too far behind, that it might be a waste to top-dress now. In the last 30 days, we may have only had five of which had adequate sun. The corn needs plenty of sunlight to go through photosynthesis, and sunlight in the last month has been blocked out by heavy clouds and rain.
“It is hard to tell if the corn will make it or not. If fields drain good and are not holding too much water, they may be alright. Most fields in the area are pretty yellow and red in some spots due to over-saturated soil.”
Corn growers are still hoping for the best. Only time will tell what they can expect at harvest. Depending on the area, freeze damage may have a detrimental effect on wheat yields, which won’t be measured until harvest is complete. One crop that is doing well, however, is milo. Those fields are producing healthy stands.