COLLEGE STATION -- With good soil moisture, warmer weather -- unseasonably warm in some areas -- and generally low insect and disease problems, wheat growth really took off in most of the state, according to reports from Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

"Temperatures have been reaching the 90 degree mark during the day with lows around the high 40s," said Ryan Martin, AgriLife Extension agent for Motley County, southeast of Amarillo. "These conditions have helped out the winter wheat tremendously; it looks like it came alive overnight. Some producers have started moving cattle back to wheat ground."

"High winds and warm temperatures are starting to dry this ground out a bit," said Brad Easterling, AgriLife Extension agent for Baylor County, west of Wichita Falls. "Stockers are gaining nicely on graze-out wheat. So far, insects including greenbugs, are not a problem in wheat, and rust is lying low."

"This week thus far has been dry and warmer, more seasonable for this time of year," said Rick Maxwell, AgriLife Extension agent for Collin County, north of Dallas. "What little wheat was planted last fall is now growing good with the sunshine and warmer weather."

"Dry Southwest winds wicked away some of our moisture, but a survey of fields shows that only the top 1.5 to 2 inches are dry," said Scott Adair, AgriLife Extension agent for Hale County, north of Lubbock. "The earliest wheat is in Feekes stage 6, with one main stem node clearly visible. Some producers and consultants are finding Russian wheat aphids."

"Wheat and oats are heading out and look pretty good for a grain crop," said Jerry Warren, AgriLife Extension agent for Bexar County, San Antonio. "Much of the wheat and oats will be grazed out, but the remaining should have decent yield."

The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters:

CENTRAL: The agricultural situation continued to improve with warmer weather and sunshine. Wheat growers were treating for wheat stripe rust (yellow rust) and some leaf rust (brown rust) in fields dry enough to cross with spray rigs. Because wet weather delayed corn planting, it was expected some producers would plant milo instead. Small grains and pastures made good growth. Peach trees were looking better than average.

COASTAL BEND: Farmers continued planting sorghum, cotton and rice. Planting of sesame was also under way and seed rice will be planted soon. Rain was expected, and producers were trying to get fertilizer applications done while fields were dry enough. However, the showers did not materialize. Warmer temperatures encouraged pasture growth.

EAST: Warmer temperatures caused grasses to green up and grow. Producers were preparing to plant vegetables. Reports on fruit crops showed only slight damage caused by earlier frosts. Watermelon crops were doing well. Livestock were in fair to good condition with some producers still providing supplemental feed. Feral hogs were active, but reports indicated damage had decreased somewhat.

FAR WEST: The weather was mild with warm days and cool nights. No precipitation was reported, and topsoils further dried out. Some alfalfa farmers made their first cutting. Spring-weed growth provided grazing for sheep and goats. Mesquites and pecans still had not leafed out.

NORTH: Soil moisture was adequate to surplus, and warm, windy weather helped dry out fields, allowing producers to plant crops. Wheat that was planted last fall was in fair to good condition. Rangeland and pastures were in poor to fair condition. Warm-season grasses began to come out of dormancy. Livestock were in fair to good condition, and most beef producers were finished or nearly finished with winter feeding. Sweet potato growers were preparing to plant. Bermuda grass spriggers started digging. This year's peach crop looked promising. Feral hogs remained a major problem.

PANHANDLE: Conditions were warm, dry and windy. Producers were finally able to get into fields to fertilize wheat, spray for weeds and finish field preparations for spring planting. Wheat was in fair to good condition, showing growth with the warmer days and good soil moisture. Spring calving began. Warmer grasses began to come out of dormancy. After a long winter of just holding in place, cattle exhibited some weight gain.

ROLLING PLAINS: Warm, windy weather was drying out the upper layer of the soil profile, but deeper soil moisture remained. Producers were preparing cotton fields and waiting for soil temperatures in anticipation of planting. Plowing in preparation for planting sudan/sorghum was in full swing. The wheat made good progress, with producers wrapping up fertilizer top-dressing and herbicide treatments as the crop neared the boot stage. So far, insects including green bugs, were not a problem; neither was wheat rust to any extent. Area producers have pulled cattle off of any wheat that they plan to harvest for grain. Pastures continued to improve daily with warmer, dry weather. Livestock were in good condition. Cool-season grasses provided much-needed grazing for cattle, thereby reducing the need for supplemental feeding. Mesquite trees were budding, and fruit trees were in full bloom.

SOUTH: Cool nights, warmer daytime temperatures and windy conditions were the rule throughout the region. Crop planting was almost at an end, and spring crops were progressing well in the southern parts of the region. Soil moisture levels were adequate in most of the district but short in the western counties. Forage availability in rangeland and pastures increased, and the condition of cattle improved in response. Corn and sorghum crops emerged, with corn about a foot tall. Growers began planting watermelons. In the northern counties, potatoes were doing very well thanks to warmer days. In the eastern counties, corn and sunflowers emerged and most stands were well established. Cool nights slowed the progress of cotton. Irrigators were very busy applying water to wheat, cabbage, onions, sorghum and cotton. Producers were harvesting cabbage, and irrigated wheat was doing well. However, in the western counties, dryland wheat and oats showed signs of stress due to the lack of rain.

SOUTH PLAINS: The region had warm, windy weather, with highs near 90 degrees and a low of 32 degrees. A forecast for a slight chance of rain proved wrong and the region remained dry. However, soil moisture remained adequate. Winter wheat really took off because of the warm days. Producers continued to apply fertilizers and herbicides and do field preparation. Pastures and rangeland were in fair to good condition. Cattle were in good condition.

SOUTHEAST: Warmer days and drier weather sped up forage growth, and rangeland was green and lush. Beef cattle body condition scores were above average. Spring planting and land preparation were under way due to drier conditions. Cattle condition improved some this week with better forage growth conditions. Native grasses made some progress while Bermuda grass and bahia grass were slow to come around as nights remained cool.

SOUTHWEST: The total rain for March was about 70 percent of the long-term average, but the year-to-date cumulative amount was about 1.5 times average. Soils still had considerable moisture. Mild, cool, open weather accelerated spring growth, and the region looked good and green. While some less-palatable winter weeds used up soil moisture, overall forage availability improved significantly. Livestock and wildlife were making good use of the improved forage availability. Corn and sorghum showed good stands. Frost or cold injury to potatoes and onions in mid-March appeared to be minor. The spinach harvest wound down. Growers continued to harvest cabbage, broccoli and carrots. Wheat, oats and late-planted cabbage made excellent progress. Farmers were planting cotton, cantaloupe, watermelon and cucumbers. Fruit and pecan growers were optimistic that fruit set would be above average.

WEST CENTRAL: Warmer temperatures and high winds dried everything out. Crops need more rain soon. As fields dried out, producers were preparing for spring planting, spraying herbicides and applying fertilizer. Weeds were expected to be a big problem this season. Small-grains showed some signs of rust, and growers were spraying in response. Rangeland and pastures continued to improve with the warmer temperatures. Beef producers were culling herds. As pastures greened up, producers decreased supplemental feeding of livestock.

Source: Texas A&M University