By Christopher Collins, Abilene Reporter-News, Texas
Rain, snow and sleet that smacked Big Country residents in Texas last week may have made some residents miserable, but the area's winter wheat crop enjoyed the extended dousing, an agriculture expert said.
"We've got a lot of moisture out of it. I think we're set up really well for a good spring," said Michael Palmer, the Coleman County agent with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
An average of $80 million in wheat is harvested annually in the Big Country. About 20,000 acres are planted in Coleman County.
Winter wheat -- planted from September to December -- is generally harvested in May or June, making March an ideal time for precipitation, Palmer said.
And though it may seem counterintuitive, snow and freezing rain doesn't adversely affect the plants.
"All the moisture right now is beneficial -- not if we'd been further along in the growth stage and temperatures stayed below freezing, but at this point it's all beneficial," Palmer said.
Abilene has recorded 1.01 inches of rain this month so far, with more than half of that falling during Monday's all-day drizzle, according to the National Weather Service in San Angelo.
The city has received 4.52 inches so far this year, four inches more than it had at the same time last year.
To get an ideal winter wheat crop, farmers need to see more precipitation, warmth and sunshine. More winter storms could be a setback, Palmer said.
"Provided we don't have any late winter storms, it should be better than the previous year," he said.
What are you seeing in your area? How is the weather affecting your fields? Send us your Crop Comments.